Obamacare isn’t quite dead, but it is shrinking. For those of you living under a rock, this is an extremely good thing. The implementation of Obamacare has more than tripled the household cost of medical care in less than 10 years. It has also lead to the first life expectancy decline in America since WWII.
That’s right. Obamacare is literally killing Americans.
So, when Congress failed to repeal and replace, we were all reasonably upset. They managed some redemption when they killed the federal mandate, and that has already seen good benefits. But, even without the help of Congress, Trump has been restoring and improving American health care all on his own.
This is a topic that has frequented political discussions, but many Americans don’t really understand the scope of changing short-term policies (STLDIs). In principle, these are health insurance plans that bridge gaps between more permanent coverage policies. During the Obama Administration, they were slapped with heavy regulation. In 2016, they were federally limited so that you can only use an STLDI for three months. The idea was to eliminate options and force people to use the healthcare exchange. We all saw how that worked.
Trump wasted no time in reversing some of this. He’s issued multiple executive orders in regards to STLDIs over the last year and a half, and now that can last for a full 12 months. They can also be renewed for up to 36 months. That’s a lot more time to find a permanent insurance plan. Far more importantly, STLDIs are less regulated than exchange policies. You can use one of these temp plans to get lower premiums, lower deductibles and more options in your coverage in general.
STLDI plans are only one-third the cost of an Obamacare plan on average. If Trump did nothing else for health care, this would already be huge. It’s also why the number of insured Americans isn’t decreasing even though healthcare exchanges are failing across the country.
Health Savings Accounts
Another big move by Trump has been to expand access to health savings accounts (HSAs). Once again, Obama worked to make them unavailable to eliminate viable alternatives to Obamacare. He knew that being able to claim millions of people were on his plans was the key to winning the PR campaign. Sadly, that convinced a lot of sheep on the left.
But, like Social Security, Obamacare plans prove that government-run accounting is rarely competitive with personally managed finance. And, just like personal retirement accounts always outperform Social Security, health savings accounts pretty much always outperform Obamacare policies. The big changes under Trump have been an increase in who can contribute to an HSA, how much tax-free money can be added each year and the ability for children to inherit HSA funds from their parents.
Altogether, HSAs are far more viable than before, and they are rapidly replacing traditional insurance policies for many Americans without reducing quality of care. The best part is that they are virtually universally accepted because you’re essentially paying cash for medical services. Conversely, the number of healthcare providers who won’t accept Obamacare plans only grows.
More State Control
Since Congress dropped the ball and didn’t kill Obamacare when they had the chance, the next best possibility is to increase state-level autonomy on insurance regulation and healthcare reform. That is exactly what the Trump Administration has done. He has reduced federal regulation on everything from the size of plans and scope of coverage to allocating Medicaid funds.
Allowing the states to self-regulate has helped hundreds of millions of Americans escape the financial burden of paying for outrageous regulations in states like California. It has curbed federal healthcare spending, reduced healthcare infrastructure strain and contributed to a slow but steady process of chipping away at the overall cost of health care.
This alone hasn’t given us the unlimited access to plans across state lines that would fully fix the national health insurance problem, but it’s very good progress in that direction. With more freedom, states that don’t stick their heads where the sun don’t shine (looking at you again California) can approve out-of-state options. Similar to concealed carry reciprocity, we’re already seeing a number of states accept policies from outside their borders. This dramatically increases health insurance access and total flexibility in choosing a policy.
Business Insurance Pools
Above all else, Trump has helped return market competition to health insurance. The biggest step toward achieving this comes from business insurance pools. Previously illegal, these pools allow small businesses to band together to negotiate insurance deals with providers. This increases their bargaining power and makes them more competitive with larger businesses for providing benefits to employees. It provides quality coverage to a lot of people who would otherwise be on garbage Obamacare plans.
This is doubly good in the growing gig economy. People who work on 1099s and similar contracts are technically considered sole proprietors (depending on the situation) and can now band together to bargain for competitive insurance plans. This gives quality care options to millions of Americans who, frankly, only suffered from massive price increases and shrinking coverage under Obamacare.
The Battle Ahead
You can trust that the left hates all of these changes. Their rationale is that everything Trump is doing has reduced participation in Obamacare exchanges. That’s exactly the point, but, since they equate a reduction in Obamacare to deaths of Americans, this is all abhorrent in their eyes. For some reason, healthcare coverage only saves lives if you put Obama’s name on it.
That’s why this fight is far from over. Health care is still decisively worse today than it was 10 years ago, but we get to say that about a lot of things that suffered under 8 years of Obama. The most important thing is that the worst problems have been identified and are being addressed. For now, we can enjoy the fact that runaway healthcare costs are finally slowing down.
Hopefully, with a few more years of Trump we might actually see costs shrink. Of course, the best way to get there quickly is to vote in November. As great as Trump is, he’d be even better with a competent Congress backing him on the important issues.