It has been six years since the Republicans announced they plan to announce a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. In those six years, the best they have come up with is a “plan to have a plan.” If what Paul Ryan hinted at in a speech at Georgetown University is their “plan” it has already been tried, and it has already failed.
Ryan said that about 10 percent of the population is in what is called the “uninsurable pool”. That means they have pre-existing conditions that make their insurance rates higher than everyone else. At least until the Affordable Care Act came about.
Now Ryan is calling for “High-Risk Pools” that will insure those with pre-existing conditions or are very sick. He says that the Federal Government will subsidize these “high-risk pools” at the state level. You know the same “states” that refused to expand Medicaid even though the Federal Government was paying for most of it.
If you are relatively young, you may think that Ryan has announced something new and wonderful. However, you would be wrong. These “high-risk” pools have been around since 1976. It has been a mainstay of conservative health care for decades. Problem is, it doesn’t work.
Under the high risk pool theory, people who can’t get insurance because of pre-existing conditions would be put into these pools. They would pay a substantial amount in premiums above everyone else. Ryan claims the government would subsidize them to help defray the costs. But, the one part of the Affordable Care Act conservatives hate the most is the subsidizing of poor people to get insurance.
When these pools existed in the past, premiums were about four times higher than a normal policy would cost. On top of all of that, the deductibles and “yearly outlay” for insurance companies were out-of-balance. For example, deductibles were as high as $25,000 per year. The maximum amount the insurance company would pay in a year was $75,000.
When you add the fact that the policy cost four times as much as any other policy, it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that the “customer” was getting ripped-off. That is if they could even afford to purchase the plan to begin with.
Imagine yourself, a working-class person needing to be insured because of pre-existing conditions and are forced to be placed into one of these high-risk pools. Where are you going to get the money to pay the premiums and the ridiculously high deductibles? The other side that we haven’t even mentioned yet, is that there were also “lifetime” limits on what the insurance company would pay. Meaning even if you could afford such high-risk insurance, you were going to be tossed off because you used up your limits.
These high-risk pools were tried before and failed miserably. Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundations said: “For 35 years, states tried to meet this challenge, but never could. They looked for other ways to limit costs of their state high risk pool programs — surcharging premiums, imposing high deductibles and low lifetime limits, and most of all, excluding people based on their pre-existing conditions. That meant the vast majority of people who were eligible for and needed [high-risk pool] coverage couldn’t enroll.”
To put this all into perspective, the Government Accountability Office found that as of 2008, fewer than 200,000 people were covered by high-risk pools, out of nearly 4 million who should have been eligible.
The other thing that would not be part of this “grand plan” is subsidies for the poor to actually afford insurance. Women would also be required to pay higher premiums just like before, simply because they are women. Insurance companies think being a woman is a “pre-existing” condition.
Ryan’s speech was just a glimpse of the “plan” the Republicans think will “replace” the affordable care act. They will tout “competition” as the secret to keeping premiums low. But, what they are banking on is taking sick people off the insurance rolls so others can pay less.
And, when those “others” get older and sicker, they will find themselves in the same “high-risk pools” they thought was a good idea. When they actually “need” insurance, they will discover they won’t be able to get it.
But that has always been the “conservative” way. Reward the rich and punish the poor. If you are sick and costing an insurance company money, you should be removed from the rolls and just die. There is far less expense for dead people than living ones.
The Republicans are still “planning” to roll out their “plan” to replace the Affordable Care Act this summer. Just in time for the elections. If what Paul Ryan laid out in his speech at Georgetown University is what they are going to roll out, we will definitely visit a failed past, again.
If this plan were to come to pass, the Insurance Companies will be laughing all the way to the bank while you suffer because you can’t get insurance! That is the Republican’s alternative plan to the Affordable Care Act.