Healthcare Economics

Do You Believe the CBO? An Analysis of Repeal or Replace

CBO analysis of Congress' Obamacare repeal or replace

It’s a hectic time for anyone trying to predict what will happen to their family’s healthcare costs. Every conceivable think tank, group, association and committee seems to have an opinion about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), and many ScriptSave WellRx members are wondering (and worrying) about who to believe.

One thing seems to be certain – change is coming. For some, it’ll be well received, while others may be worse for the change.

At ScriptSave, we keep close watch for signs of higher prescriptions prices. Anyone familiar with us, knows that our long-standing mission has been to close the gaps in prescription coverage. We have a 20-year history of working with health plans and pharmacies to provide consumers with discounts on their prescription medications. We choose not to make political statements, but we will insert ourselves into a discussion if we see opportunities to help inform our members.

After reading the much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Republican Obamacare repeal bill, we wanted to summarize some important conclusions that, if you choose to believe the CBO, might be worth taking note of.

The CBO data suggest that roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026, under the new proposed plan. If the bill is enacted, 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018 alone.

The nonpartisan CBO also forecasts the GOP plan would cut the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, primarily coming from funding cuts to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies.

An estimated 50 million people were uninsured when Obamacare was enacted in 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey. This compares to a total of 52 million people who the CBO now estimates would be uninsured by 2026 if the new House bill became law.1

An analysis of the revised Senate amendment of the bill determined that the bill would result in 22 million fewer people with health insurance by 2026, and 15 million fewer just in the next year.5

An Increase on Premiums Through 2020

The CBO analysis of comparative projections, relative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), shows how the Republicans’ Affordable Health Care Act would lead to higher average premiums in the individual market prior to 2020—15% in 2018 and 20% in 2019. The CBO made note that premium changes under the new proposal would differ “significantly” for people of different ages. In particular, the bill would allow insurance companies to charge older customers up to five times more for coverage similar to younger customers.2

Opposition from Healthcare Organizations

Independent of the CBO analysis, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals commissioned a study of the impact of the bill. Their findings led them to send a letter of opposition to Congress. Their study shows hospitals would be burdened with a loss of $165.8 billion in Medicaid reimbursements by 2026. They further noted “reversal of coverage would represent an unprecedented public health crisis” resulting from the loss of insurance coverage.3

Rising Prescription Drug Costs

The national association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), also recently completed a study showing the majority of health insurance premiums are going towards the cost of prescription drugs.4

Regardless of how things shake out, ScriptSave will continue to do what we’ve done for the past 20 years—provide options to patients who struggle with non-covered and high deductible prescriptions. For those facing high out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications, a free download of the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card may help lower healthcare costs in this area. As a patient, the card (or mobile app) is free to download and free to use. The average savings rate for ScriptSave members is 45% (with many saving up to 80%*), and the ScriptSave WellRx program is contracted with over 62,000 pharmacies, nationwide.

For anyone wondering how it works, we just wrote a blog post on that subject. Learn more in our Honesty 1.01 article (and don’t forget to sign up, regardless of how you voted).


References:

1 https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/americanhealthcareact_0.pdf

2 http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/aca/cbo-republican-healthcare-bill-would-cover-millions-fewer-than-aca-but-reduce-federal-deficit

3 http://www.aha.org/content/16/impact-repeal-aca-report.pdf

4 https://ahip.org/health-care-dollar/

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52849

* Average and up to savings percentages are based on all discounted prescriptions that were run through the ScriptSave WellRx program in 2016. Discount percentages represent savings provided off of pharmacies’ retail prices for consumers who do not have a discount program and pay cash.

 

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