If you have been following the news lately, you might know that Trump and the Republicans want to dismantle Obamacare. It’s a hallmark of Obama’s administration, and it’s something that Democrats are desperately trying to save. But what really is Obamacare, and how is the repeal of Obamacare going to affect you and your family?
Let’s start with a brief overview of health care in the United States. Currently, the government offers health insurance programs: Medicare and Medicaid. Though the two are similar in name, they are different in nature. Medicare is designed for the elderly, 65 years of age or older. Medicaid on the other hand is designed for families in lower income brackets. After Medicare and Medicaid were passed in 1965, there weren’t any major health care advances until 2010, when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, creating Obamacare. The defining factor about Obamacare is its individual mandate, which requires all Americans who currently don’t have coverage to buy health insurance if they can afford it, or pay a tax if they refuse to do so. What this does is bring healthier people into the health care system so that health insurance providers can earn more money.
What makes Obamacare so controversial is the individual mandate, and it is one of the parts that Republicans have vowed to repeal. The individual mandate is unpopular among the uninsured because many of the people who end up paying the penalty are people in low to moderate income brackets, some drowning in debt. Others also worry that this government mandate for people to buy health care is an encroachment on personal freedom.
However, Republicans are not capable of repealing all of Obamacare because they lack the votes to do so. They have, however, expressed the desire to preserve parts of the plan that include allowing children to be protected under parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 and preventing health insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.
From this point on, it is unclear what the next step is. The repeal of Obamacare would leave around 20 million people uninsured, and the Congressional Budget Office says it will increase the federal budget deficit by $137 billion by 2025. It is also unclear what the replacement for Obamacare will be, as Republicans are still divided over what should be next. Whatever lawmakers do, it will dramatically impact health care in the United States.