Lawmaking isn’t just for politicians anymore. Now, folks from all across the country and all walks of life are collaborating on a healthcare reform bill to let our leaders know what we want our healthcare system to look like.
With a healthcare bill moving through Congress as we speak, the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), #OurCare’s “America’s Bill” might actually be the kind of legislation we need.
What is #OurCare?
#OurCare is a new nonpartisan social movement started by HealthMarkets. HealthMarkets is one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the country, offering health insurance assistance to individuals, families, seniors, and small business owners. Having enrolled Americans in more than 2 million insurance policies since the Affordable Care Act began, HealthMarkets felt compelled to build a platform that allowed everyday citizens to have a voice in the latest rounds of healthcare reform…because, no matter what anyone says about healthcare in America, it’s not Obamacare and it’s not Trumpcare, it’s OurCare. It’s no one person’s and no one party’s, it’s all of ours and we need to design the healthcare system we want.
To join the movement, people all across American are visiting www.OurCareBill.org where you can BYOB—Build Your Own Bill—which lets you decide what you want in a healthcare law. While healthcare is no easy subject, the BYOB tool is. The process includes a simple questionnaire that incorporates all of the major healthcare issues, background information, and links for further research. You can then add any additional ideas you may have. When you’re finished, you have your own personal healthcare reform bill.
Then comes the fun part. You can share your healthcare bill with your social network, send it to members of Congress, and you can even tweet your bill to President Trump. Pretty innovative, huh?
What is America’s Bill?
America’s Bill is the first-ever crowdsourced legislative bill. With so many people creating bills of their own using #OurCare’s BYOB tool, they combine all of the most-popular selections into America’s Bill.
America’s Bill is much like a real legislative bill, only shorter. It covers seven sections: Basic Benefits & Coverage; Taxes, Spending & Subsidies; Managing the Health Risk Pool; Medicare; Transparency; and Other Concerns. Across those sections are 28 topics ranging from state Medicaid expansion to premium subsidies to Medicare eligibility age to selling insurance across state lines, among others.
What is the GOP’s American Health Care Act?
The House GOP has recently proposed the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Some are referring to it as “Ryancare” (after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan) or “Trumpcare” (after President Trump). The bill is the first effort by the GOP to make good on their campaign promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.”
A summary of the American Health Care Act includes the:
- Replacement of the individual mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance with a continuous coverage penalty that would increase premium rates by 30% for individuals who had a lapse in coverage greater than 63 days.
- Repeal of the employer mandate requiring companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to offer qualified health insurance benefits.
- Change in the way premium subsidies are calculated, having them set by age (from $2,000 annually for 29-year-olds to $4,000 for those who are 60+) rather than based on the cost of premiums in your area and your household income (current subsidies average nearly $4,600 annually).
- Expansion of how high insurance companies can set premium rates for older policyholders, allowing the premiums to be 5 times greater than those of younger policyholders rather than the current cap of 3 times as much.
- Retention of the current rules that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
- Retention of the current rules that require insurance companies to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26.
- Retention of the current rules that ban lifetime and annual dollar limits on health insurance coverage.
- Repeal of the requirement that insurance companies provide policies with a minimum actuarial value.
- Per capita capping of federal funds sent to states to support Medicaid for low-income and disabled Americans.
- Implementation of various tax cuts for high-income earners, investment income, tanning salons, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device firms, public company executives, and others.
- Increase in the contribution limit for health savings accounts (HSAs) to $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families with additional $1,000 catch-up contributions for people over the age of 55.
- Elimination of cost-sharing subsidies, which currently reduce out-of-pocket healthcare costs including deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance for over 5.5 million low-income citizens.
The Congressional Budget Office has released a score on the bill, judging it to be likely to increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million people by 2026. Additionally, numerous groups have come out as opposed to the bill including AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and others. Other groups have come out in favor of the bill including Americans for Tax Reform, the Log Cabin Republicans, and others.
How does America’s Bill compare to the GOP’s American Health Care Act?
With the House GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) debate in full swing, HealthMarkets recently published a comparison of the AHCA and America’s Bill, and the findings are striking. Here are some key takeaways.
America disagrees with the AHCA on:
- Moving to age-based premium subsidies and away from income-based premium subsidies.
- Providing various tax cuts on high-income earners, investment income, tanning salons, and others.
- Eliminating the individual mandate to purchase insurance and the large-employer mandate to offer insurance.
- Increasing the ratio that insurers can use to set premium rates for older policyholders.
- Eliminating subsidies that lowered out-of-pocket costs including deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance for lower-income citizens
America agrees with the AHCA on:
- Continuing the ban on lifetime coverage limits.
- Continuing the requirement that health plans include 10 essential health benefits.
- Continuing the ban on varying premium charges by gender.
- Continuing to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.
- Increasing the cap on contributions to health savings accounts.
Though not contemplated in the AHCA, America would like to allow:
- Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
- The importation of prescription drugs from foreign countries.
The bottom line
Healthcare in America is one of the most critical, complicated, and, unfortunately, contentious issues we face. The AHCA has not yet passed Congress. It’s essential that all of us engage in a discussion about what we want our healthcare system to look like. #OurCare lets you do that.
Go to OurCareBill.org, build your own bill, and make your voice heard today.
Michael Z. Stahl
Two-time author, entrepreneurial leader, insurance expert, and KC Royals enthusiast, Michael is the Founder of #OurCare and the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at HealthMarkets, one of the largest independent health insurance agencies in the United States. HealthMarkets offers individual health, small group, Medicare, life, and supplement insurance products from more than 200 insurance companies with thousands of plans nationwide for individuals, families, seniors, small business owners, and their employees. Frequently cited in the media including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, MSNBC, CNBC, among others, Michael is an important expert in the insurance industry. Michael holds the Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Insurance Accounting & Finance (AIAF) and Associate in Reinsurance (Are) designations along with a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Michael lives in Dallas with his wife, three sons, and a daughter.