Americans spend a lot on health care.
So much so, in fact, that in 2014 the United States spent nearly 18 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare, almost double the global 10 percent average. This is largely a result of Americans spending more on specialist and on special procedures, though rapid growth in hospital admissions and cuts to hospital expenditures, among other factors, has led to an increasingly monopolized market.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, broad changes were brought to the American health care system. As the vast majority of the law took effect in 2014, Ohio’s health care network, the seventh largest in the nation, was bolstered by the creation of a federally run exchange. As President Barack Obama’s final term in office winds down, let’s review the changes experienced by Ohioans and what we can expect to see in the future.
Obamacare in Ohio
Obamacare mandated that insurance exchanges be created in each state, run either by that individual state or by the federal government (in Ohio’s case, it’s the latter). As more Americans enrolled in coverage plans, insurance providers increasingly pulled out after finding themselves increasingly unable to achieve a net profit. As the competition of other insurance companies gradually withered away, remaining companies were able – and due to cost, sometimes forced – to increase premiums, reflected in the growing rates paid by most Americans.
Ohioans should prepare to keep paying those growing rates. An estimated 13 percent increase in premiums is expected in the Buckeye State in 2017, though this number is low compared to expected increases in other states.
While this indicates an increase in prices, it doesn’t include the full costs.
“Consumers in Ohio will continue to have affordable Health Insurance Marketplace options next year,” Jonathan Gold of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. “Among Marketplace consumers, most will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month.”
While Americans are experiencing a spike in premium rates, these figures can be deceptive; nearly 85 percent of consumers experienced a rate increase last year, but it only averaged out to an increase of $4.
“Meanwhile, for the 60 percent of people in Ohio with employer coverage, premiums have grown at some of the slowest rates on record since the Affordable Care Act was enacted,” Gold said.
While this may come as a relief to some, the future of the Affordable Care Act is anything but certain.
Obamacare’s hazy future
A pivotal part of Obamacare is, of course, its namesake. Whomever the president passes the torch onto in 2016 – either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – will decide its future.
Like most conservatives, Trump has pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare as one of his first acts in office. Echoing conservative criticisms that have harangued the ACA since its inception, Trump insisted its rising premiums and limited access must be replaced with a free-market based system that will “broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.” This will happen by turning Medicaid into a block grant program, according to his campaign website and repeated assertions on the trail.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s health care reform proposal is considerably closer to the existing system. Defending Obamacare and its increased coverage on the campaign trail, Clinton has pledged to build upon the existing system and expand coverage, particularly for low-income Americans.
With the ACA making up such an important part of Obama’s legacy, Clinton has pledged tooth and nail to make sure it’s improved and expanded in her first term.
“All Ohio consumers, no matter where they get their coverage, are benefiting from ACA protections,” Jonathan said.