As soon as former President Obama wrote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, into law, Republicans vowed to repeal it. In fact, President Trump ran on the platform of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Within the government, there was a lot of controversy about having a comprehensive bill to replace the ACA. Last week, that all changed. On March 6, House Republicans publicly released the American Healthcare Act, also known as the AHCA. It consists of two bills that were drafted and then passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the House Ways and Means Committee. If the AHCA is written into law, it will most definitely affect college students in multiple ways. Fresh U compiled a list of four to be aware of.
1. Ability to Remain on Parent's Healthcare Plan
As of right now, the AHCA will continue to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ healthcare insurance until they are 26, a provision pulled from the ACA. This provision is well liked by the American people because it allows many more Americans to get insurance. In 2011, The Commonwealth Fund, an American foundation that advocates for high performing healthcare systems in our country, reported that 28% of adults ages 19-34 were uninsured. The ACA was not in full effect at that point. However, in 2016, the number of uninsured people dropped to 18%, meaning 10% more people in that age group are now covered by insurance. This provision also has bipartisan support across the board.
- 2. Lack of Planned Parenthood Funding
The AHCA would strip funding to Planned Parenthood, which is currently funded by the ACA. Planned Parenthood is the largest women’s healthcare provider in America and receives 500 million dollars from the federal government annually. Republicans are looking to defund the organization because of its abortion services, even though the Hyde Amendment bans all federal funds from going to abortion services. However, it's important to note that only three percent of Planned Parenthood's health services are related to abortion. According to the Planned Parenthood website, 84% of women age 20 and older use their resources; meaning, millions of college students also use their resources. College-aged women are able to get affordable birth control at Planned Parenthood, as well as numerous other services, such as: treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, pap smears, breast exams and sexual education. Without Planned Parenthood, millions of college students across the country would have nowhere to turn for quality care at an affordable cost.
3. Continuation of Prohibiting Coverage Denial for a Pre-Existing Condition
Similar to the ACA, the AHCA will continue to cover people with pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that a person has before they signed up for their particular insurance plan. Diabetes, food allergies, depression and even cancer are all pre-existing conditions and a person could have been denied insurance for having any of them prior to the ACA. This is because it would have cost the insurance company more to insure them than a “healthy” person. If these people were not denied coverage, they would have been charged more because of their condition(s); this practice was also barred under the ACA and is still barred under the AHCA.
4. Health Insurance Will No Longer Be Federally Mandated
The AHCA is getting rid of the federal mandate that was a part of the ACA. This was enacted in an effort to make sure everyone in the U.S. who could afford health insurance had it. Those who still did not want health insurance had to pay a fine. With the AHCA, Republicans have gotten rid of the mandate, which discourages younger, healthy adults from purchasing it. This will eventually raise the cost of health insurance for those who are sick or older, the people who really need it. This could affect whether the parents of college students and graduates can obtain insurance depending on their age or health. If they do not have insurance and their son or daughter has a job that does not provide health insurance, than young people are back to square one.
These are not the only changes to our healthcare system that have been proposed and college students are not the only people who will be affected by these changes. For more information, the New York Times has a comprehensive infographic that explains the differences between the ACA and the AHCA. Ezra Klein from Vox also has a video that goes in depth into explaining the changes our healthcare system would face because of the AHCA.
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