#MakeAmericaSickAgain may have shown up in your Twitter or Facebook news feed during the past few days. Proponents of the Affordable Care Act are currently pushing that hashtag to drive their argument that, if the law is repealed and replaced, then millions of Americans will lose their health coverage and be put at risk.
While it may get headlines, #MakeAmericaSickAgain is not grounded in reality. According to a poll from Gallup, more people report having been hurt by Obamacare than helped by it. This is exactly why, as the 2016 Election clearly illustrated, people are eager for lawmakers to repeal and replace Obamacare with a better system.
In short, Obamacare’s promises have not been fulfilled because the law has been flawed from the beginning. We all want to make sure that all Americans have access to quality health care, and help those in need. But placing heavy regulations on insurers and mandating that all Americans buy a government-approved insurance plan, regardless of their needs or preferences, is not the way to accomplish that. In fact, these regulations and mandates have backfired, leaving many people with fewer options, higher cost, and reduced access to medical care.
For years, Independent Women’s Voice (IWV)—a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization for mainstream women, men, and families—has documented the Affordable Care Act’s real-world impact. In 2013, IWV created My Cancellation, a project that brought attention to the millions of people across the country whose health policies were cancelled once the law took effect. Then in 2015, IWV launched Broken Obamacare Promises, which, like My Cancellation, gave people the chance to tell their stories of pain and frustration brought about by Obamacare, including the spiraling costs of insurance, and the lack of access to doctors and quality care.
And the stories we’ve heard have been heartbreaking.
One individual’s monthly premium is so high that she recently had to make a payment using their credit card.
Another’s health insurance now costs more than his mortgage payment after his premiums jumped 150% and his deductible increased by 1000%.
And Sue is currently in remission from stage 3 cancer, and her health coverage was just cancelled for the third time.
These people aren’t outliers. The numbers also confirm the many ways in which Obamacare has failed. Supporters of the law argued that it would provide health insurance for all Americans, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says about 27 million people remain uninsured today, and about 28 million people will be uninsured 10 years from now.
But even those who do have insurance coverage do not necessarily have access to health care. Not only have Americans’ deductibles risen seven times faster than their wages since the law was passed, but there are far fewer choices available when selecting a doctor. In 2012, before Obamacare was implemented, 23 percent of employer plans[HH1] were considered narrow network plans, which place restrictions on the doctors a patient can see. After the law took effect, a study from McKinsey and Company found that approximately 70 percent of the plans on the exchanges were “narrow network” or “ultra-narrow network,” forcing many to stop seeing their trusted doctor. Worst of all, Obamacare plans do not cover care for cancer patients at top-notch hospitals, limiting the ability of these patients to access the treatment that they desperately need, sometimes in order to survive.
For the sake of the many Americans who’ve been harmed by a misguided law, the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. There also needs to be a replacement plan in place to help people during the transition from Obamacare to a new, better system. [HH2]
Americans have struggled for years and need immediate relief. By repealing and replacing Obamacare with a patient-centered system focused on consumer choice and affordability, we can at long-last #MakeAmericaHealthyAgain.
Heather Madden is the Director of Advocacy Projects at Independent Women’s Voice.