Obamacare Replacement Could Pull Plug on Coverage

Photo by Karen Roach.

Photo by Karen Roach.

By: Bryan Boggiano

Patients in Century Village, a retirement community in Deerfield Beach that see podiatrist Dr. Robert Charnam pay more for insurance due to being at a higher risk for illness, and a price hike due to the new proposed healthcare bill may leave some of his patients uninsured.

“It’s going to be very expensive for people in their late 50s and 60s,” he said. “A lot of people won’t be carrying insurance.”

House Republicans introduced a new bill that, if passed, would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act, the replacement for Obamacare, could increase overall health insurance prices for older clients and phase out Medicaid expansion.

The new legislation would cap the amount of money a state receives for Medicaid coverage and allow insurance companies to charge older clients five times more than younger ones. Obamacare does not allow insurance companies to charge three times more, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Charnam believes the most important parts of this issue is the fact that everybody needs health insurance and that providers need to get paid. He is not worried about losing patients, but he is worried older clients may not be seen.

“Providers, both doctors and hospitals, need to get repaid, and patients need to afford a premium that provides that payment,” he said.

Charnam believes that insurance agents and government contributions should be set fairly to complete the equation.

According to Evan Tunis, owner of Florida Healthcare Insurance in Coral Springs, a change will be needed to in order to have sustainable health care in the future.  The current system rewards those making less than 400 percent of the poverty level by giving them subsidies to help offset insurance costs.  While this is noble if a person does not get a subsidy, it is costly.

The average cost of a non-subsidized family policy in Broward County for an off-exchange plan is close to $800, he said.

Tunis said this would decrease by offering more choices to consumers.  There needs to be underwriting and more options in plans allowed such as catastrophic plans and those for pre-existing conditions.

The ACA has a one-size-fits-all approach, and this leaves clients with fewer options, according to Tunis.

“Every person has different needs,” he said. “Some people only want hospitalization coverage whereas other people have cancer and they are going through treatment. You have two different spectrums of wants and needs.”

Tunis believes that regardless of whether the new plan is ideal, people still need to be covered and get the right type of coverage.

Charnam believes that there should be a balance between the risks and benefits of being insured.

“Hopefully, it will work out for everybody,” he said. “But there will be winners and losers.”

Bryan Boggiano, is a Coral Springs resident and graduated salutatorian from JP Taravella in 2014. He is currently a journalism student at the University of Florida.