There's no doubt that the Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans. But health care is complicated, so it's no surprise that the plan isn't perfect. There are quite a few ways that Obamacare could be better for moms, and just in case Senate Republicans spontaneously decide to scrap their objectively evil Better Care Reconciliation Act and come up with a plan that would actually help American citizens instead of hurting them, they can use these tips, as well.
While most people refer to "Obamacare," they're talking about individual health insurance plans purchased on the HealthCare.gov marketplace. But the ACA actually affects all insurance plans. However, different plans are affected in different ways. For example, marketplace plans are required to follow rules that employer-sponsored plan aren't. That's where it falls short for many Americans, because 49 percent of Americans are covered through employer-sponsored plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while only 7 percent are covered by individual plans. And while the roughly 10 million people currently enrolled in marketplace plans are no doubt better off now than without insurance, the ACA hasn't done a whole lot of good for everyone else. In fact, many have complained about their premiums going up as a result. Here a few ways Obamacare could improve:
Enroll More People
Why enroll more people in something that everyone's complaining about? It's simple. The chief complaint right now is the price. Even though there's a mandate to have some sort of coverage under the ACA, 9 percent of Americans still don't, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Sick people enroll and use the benefits, so the prices go up, and some insurance companies drop out of the exchange entirely because it's not profitable. We need young, healthy people to enroll, so their premiums offset the cost of others' benefits. If you're young and healthy and think that's not fair, remember that one day you'll probably be on the other end of the spectrum.
Require Essential Health Benefits For All Plans
The American Health Care Act's proposed state waivers had a lot of people up in arms recently, because it could allow some plans to stop covering "essential health benefits" like maternity care, hospitalization, and mental health care. But the ACA only requires individual and small-group plans to cover them now. If you're on an large employer plan, like 86 percent of people covered through their job, they could pull any of those benefits any time they want.
Redefine "Minimum Value" & "Affordability"
Large employers are required to offer affordable coverage that provides a "minimum value" to employees, or else pay hefty tax penalties. But these thresholds, as the Internal Revenue Service defines them, aren't all that affordable or valuable, and they need to be overhauled.
Require Small Employer Coverage
It's great that large employers have an incentive to offer insurance to their employees, but 53 of the workforce is employed by small businesses, according to The Huffington Post, and they need coverage, too. The IRS does offer a tax credit to businesses with less than 25 employees that provide coverage, but that's not enough. Small businesses should be held to the same standard as large ones, because their employees don't matter any less.
Broaden Preventive Care Coverage
The one part of the ACA that was supposed to be a great benefit to everybody was that preventive care would be covered without a copay. But it doesn't apply to all preventive care; just vaccines and a few very basic screenings. For example, a pediatrician won't charge a copay to score a simple autism screening checklist, but if the results indicate that a child needs a full neurological evaluation, deductibles and copayments still apply, and that can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. And that's just to get a diagnosis. Kids deserve better than that.
We're still a long way for perfect health care coverage in the United States, but it's not impossible. It'll just take a lot of work and — pay attention, Mitch McConnell — a little compassion.