Consumers share their top healthcare concerns, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Many Americans say they are worried about the future of the Affordable Care Act for people with preexisting conditions, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll. Almost 70 percent (68%) of respondents said they want to keep preexisting condition protections, and the KFF report suggests that a majority of respondents (54%) want to keep the healthcare law entirely as is, even if insurance plan costs increase.
Those who responded said they’re all for price increases as long as their healthcare provisions are met. But who should pay for the possible increases is another thing altogether: About 43% of respondents said the burden of payment should be on the insurance company alone, and 47% said they believe insurance companies and providers should share any increased cost.
Of course, economically, those are not feasible assumptions nor should they be expected outcomes. Costs will ultimately be passed onto patients.
The most pressing healthcare concerns
The most pressing healthcare payment-related issues of the Americans interviewed include: prescription drug costs, 68% and protections for preexisting conditions, 64%. The "Medicare-for-All" tax plan permeates with 31% of respondents.
The Kaiser Family Foundation's poll shows that 38% of those interviewed hold unfavorable views of a Medicare-for-All plan or the ACA. Party lines seem to show us a lot, too. About 75% of Democrats love the ACA. 77% of Republicans don’t care for the law.
In fact, the majority of the members of the conservative party (52%) think repealing Obamacare should be a top priority. Meanwhile, 47% of liberals say Medicare for All is the top priority. This legislation, if passed, would give the government a greater role in everything from setting health prices to deciding what benefits get included in an insurance plan.
The concerns listed in this most recent report were said to have been felt equally between Democrats and Republicans. The majority of Republicans want the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA, but only 44% said they want protections for people with preexisting conditions overturned.
"If you’re really sick and have high drug costs, it would be hard not to benefit from these bills," says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation who recently co-authored a report comparing the different Democratic plans to expand public coverage.
The Medicare-for-All plans currently floating in the House and Senate would eliminate employer-sponsored coverage completely, and all Americans who currently get insurance at work would transition to one big government healthcare plan. The government already finances two major health coverage plans: Medicare and Medicaid. Taken together, these two programs cover one-third of all Americans: 19% of Americans get their coverage from Medicare, and 14% from Medicaid.
What’s more, both of these programs are popular. One recent poll found that 77% of Americans think Medicare is a "very important" program.
As time passes, more Democrats think the program is great while more Republicans think it’s not so good. But, much of the perception for such a program might have more to do with branding, and as Shakespeare pondered, the importance of a name.
For example, 63% of respondents said they viewed "universal coverage" and "Medicare for All" positively. Support dropped to 59% when it was described as a "national health plan," 49% for a "single-payer health insurance system" and 46% for "socialized medicine."
Most Democrats report wanting Congress to increase spending on Medicare (65%) and Medicaid (61%). And Republicans are more divided, with about 58% wanting spending on Medicare to remain the same and 52% wanting Medicaid to remain the same, according to the poll.
How to pay for it? Well, the Affordable Care Act was financed through taxes that hit health insurers, medical device manufacturers, hospitals, wealthy Americans, and even tanning salons; or, in other words, everyone. These fees, economically, are passed down to consumers, ultimately.
That gives relevance to the old phrase, "There’s no such thing as a free lunch."
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