Obamacare sign-ups surprise supporters, detractors alike


December 27, 2017 - 12:00 AM

More Kansans registered for Obamacare this year despite the enrollment period being sliced in half and promotional and enrollment funding dramatically reduced.
The robust turnout surprised both supporters and opponents of the health law.
Applicants were given only six weeks to sign up for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to previous years’ three months. Little to no national promotion was done to spread word of the sign-up period.
Locally, advertisements for the sign-ups were broadcast on the radio and printed in newspapers courtesy of a grant through the Kansas City-based REACH Healthcare Foundation.
Proponents of the ACA also credit President Donald Trump’s doomsday message that a stake has been driven through Obamacare with passage of tax reform as somewhat backfiring by alerting the public of the program.
Under the new bill, individuals will not be fined for not carrying health insurance beginning in 2019.
Why the 2017 tax bill includes verbiage about health insurance is a question unto itself, and, like including oil drilling in Alaska’s northern frontier, is why they compare lawmaking to sausage-making. Neither has a whit to do with tax reform, but behind closed doors found their way into the mix.
It’s expected that on a nationwide scale, the number of sign-ups for 2018’s Marketplace insurance will exceed those of previous years. A day after President Trump’s dire prediction that the health law is dead, the number had passed 8.8 million, nearly reaching that of 2017’s 9.2 million sign-ups.
All this goes to show that the demand for a federal insurance program remains strong. And though the individual mandate may be eliminated, the law remains that those with pre-existing health conditions cannot be denied insurance nor can insurers charge them more. Walking those back will be political suicide for Republicans.
Increasingly, people have nowhere to turn for health insurance, especially those with children.
For most employees, their work-based health insurance does not include spouses or children.
It often has been argued that offering a family insurance plan is the best way an employer can show his appreciation to staff. Providing health insurance for an employee’s spouse and children beats any bonus or raise.
Today, the most common cost-sharing on health insurance is employers, 75 percent; employees 25 percent.
Health care expenses remain the No. 1 cause for personal bankruptcies.

A GOAL of undermining the Affordable Care Act will take us on a downward spiral. Remove healthy participants and the pool because sicker and more expensive to treat. Those increased costs will price more participants out of the market.
Republicans’ answer?
Cut the expensive Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs to free up the needed cash to address a stressed health care system.
Or, follow the people’s lead and make what we have even better.

— Susan Lynn

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