With a new president about to take office, the immediate future of healthcare in America is uncertain — particularly for college students, who often remain on their parents’ plans or are forced to go on the market on their own. This uncertainty might cause today’s college students a great deal of stress, but for those currently seeking plans through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there is good news: anyone who enrolls prior to the January 31st deadline will most likely continue to have coverage through 2017. That being said, a few notable changes can be expected for 2017 — and even greater changes are anticipated in years to come. The more college students understand about these changes, the better they can prepare.
The Affordable Care Act in 2017
President-elect Donald Trump has announced his intention to get rid of (or, more likely, revamp) the Affordable Care Act, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that his administration will leave those currently on the marketplace high and dry. Because the interweaving of ACA into other legislation is so complex, it could take some time to dismantle. As a result, experts believe that the sheer tediousness of dismantling the program will ensure that those who enroll before February will be covered for the rest of the year. After 2017, it’s tough to say what will happen. In a 2016 bill that lawmakers knew would be rejected by President Obama, a two-year phase out of the ACA marketplace was suggested. If the Trump administration embraces this plan, those currently covered by the marketplace can expect similar coverage through 2018.
Coverage will most likely continue through 2017, but costs are expected to rise. Individuals with coverage through ACA will have to budget for higher premiums. The extent of these increases will vary considerably from one region to the next. For example, while costs are expected to remain stable in many states, they will rise significantly in Minnesota, Michigan, and Alabama. Costs are especially concerning in Oklahoma, with the Oklahoma Insurance Commission anticipating average premium increases of 76 percent.
Thankfully, there are still many subsidies for those covered by the ACA. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, subsidies ensure monthly premiums of $100 or less for 64 percent of those on the federal Silver plan. The bad news, however, is that these subsidies could be quickly dismantled once Trump takes office.
President-Elect Trump’s Plan For Healthcare
President-elect Trump’s top healthcare promise during his days on the campaign trail was to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He did not, however, give a clear indication of what he would do if and when the ACA is out of the picture. He has promised to allow young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26 — good news for many current college students. Furthermore, post-election rhetoric has touched on an unwillingness to allow providers to reject patients with pre-existing conditions.
A variety of additional ideas has been proposed, both during the 2016 election campaign and in its aftermath. A Republican Congress and Trump administration could potentially alter the tax code to ensure that health insurance premiums can be fully deducted. Those premiums may decrease if insurance plans are allowed to cross state lines. Other ideas mentioned by both Trump and Republican lawmakers include increasing price transparency for medical procedures and making health savings accounts easier to access.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Obama administration’s departure means that there will be a new Secretary of Health and Human Services. President-elect Trump’s nominee is Tom Price, who will replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The current leader of the House Budget Committee, Price is in favor of slashing the ACA and privatizing Medicare. His appointment could mean big changes for the healthcare industry. He has considerable industry experience, having served as an orthopedic surgeon for over two decades. As Secretary, he will head up a variety of influential agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Clearly, big changes are in store for health care in America. How extensive those changes are — and how quickly they occur — remains to be seen. In this time of uncertainty planning ahead can be difficult, but it is important for Americans, especially college students not covered by employers or parents, to think about all potential scenarios, and how they will respond.