As the nation waits to see what the Senate version of the American Health Care Act will look like, a new government report from the U.S. Office of the Actuary has found that deductibles and copays will be more expensive under the GOP bill, according to the Associated Press. The nonpartisan office within the Department of Health and Human Services evaluated the existing House Republican health care bill, concluding that while premiums would go down, out-of-pocket costs are more likely to rise because of how much government assistance would no longer be available.
Part of the AHCA would eliminate a provision from the Affordable Care Act requiring that health insurers offer a broader variety of plans, including health care plans with high premiums but low deductibles, notes CNN Money. Additionally, when health care insurers are able to offer plans with lower premiums, they still need to make up the money lost by consumers paying those lower monthly premiums, meaning higher deductibles and copays. Families might not feel a financial crunch when they pay for health insurance coverage every month, but every visit to the doctor, every trip to the emergency room, and every blood test or x-ray could cost consumers much, much more than they're paying now.
Let's bring this down to a more tangible, real-world example. As someone who already has to slap down $35 every time I see a doctor, the thought of paying more at every visit is deeply concerning to me and my family. My family already pays 100 percent of our health care premiums, at just barely discounted rates thanks to a group option for members of my local Chamber of Commerce. Even so, my monthly premiums were expected to go up more than 17 percent this year, so we switched to a plan with lower premiums at the expense of higher deductibles and copays. Keep in mind that right now, I'm living in the same kind of scenario that Trumpcare would employ if made law.
I have chronic health issues that require regular monitoring, which means every time I see one of the four specialists, I'm paying $45 just for the privilege of walking into their offices, never mind the cost-sharing I have for regular blood work and other diagnostics. My family's out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed in just the two months since we've been covered by this newer, lower premium plan. The thought of paying even more under the GOP bill turns my stomach.
I have genuinely hesitated about seeing my doctor because of how much the initial visit, diagnostics, and follow up visits could cost. It pains me to admit this, but I've had the same hesitations about taking my son to the doctor, too: Ultimately, he always goes to the doctor whenever it's needed — but I can't deny that I sometimes second-guess that decision to take him as we drive to his pediatrician.
According to the Office of the Actuary report, deductibles and copays under the AHCA would increase by an average of 61 percent over what they are now. We're just a family of three — I can't imagine how much these out-of-pocket costs must add up for my friends with two, three, or more children in their families. Sure, a $35 copay doesn't seem like much when it's just one person who's sick, but imagine if the flu or norovirus descends upon an entire family of six: Suddenly that family is looking at more than $200 just for everyone to get checked out — and these out-of-pocket costs add up over time.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sick visits account for anywhere from 47 to 82 percent of pediatric office visits in children ages 0 to 10 years old. No American should ever have to be in the position to question whether to take themselves or their child to the doctor because of cost. The GOP health care bill is a bad pill to swallow for most Americans — and it's downright deadly if people stop going to their doctors because they can no longer afford it.