Healthcare Fixes Could Help Millions Right Now

In the middle of a disastrous pandemic, fresh concepts to cover the 30 million presently uninsured Americans are more vital than ever.  Jim Capretta, healthcare professional at the American Business Institute, states we can do a lot today with some sensible actions: “there’s literally tens of millions of people out there who are considered uninsured, but really should be insured because we’ve already created something for them.”

Listen to the complete discussion here:

The following is an excerpt from our discussion on the Great Concepts podcast about these ingenious concepts.

Matt Robison: Throughout the last years, the United States has remade the method we spend for individuals’s health care protection through the Affordable Care Act, likewise called Obamacare. Everybody concurs that we still require to broaden protection and control expenses. They simply can’t settle on how to arrive.  So Jim, what modifications did the ACA make to health care protection and shipment in America?

Jim Capretta: Two things. One was to vastly increase the subsidies that would help people who struggled to afford insurance. That had two parts: expanding Medicaid – which is our safety net health insurance program in the United States – and creating premium subsidies when people buy their own individual insurance. The second thing was to say that anyone who was sick previously with a so-called preexisting condition would be treated just like anybody else. That was a big deal.

Matt Robison: What did the ACA get right? And what gaps did it leave?

Jim Capretta: What they did well was to create a new subsidy system for buying on the individual market that didn’t actually create a whole new bureaucracy. It’s kind of amazing. You basically go on these ACA-sponsored exchange websites, and if you’re a person eligible for a subsidy, you automatically get signed up for it. We used to have 15% uninsured in the United States and it’s down to roughly 7%.

In terms of gaps, obviously if you’ve cut something in half there’s half left to go.  The other big thing that hasn’t been solved in the United States is that there isn’t cost discipline.

Matt Robison: Are the bigger reforms that both parties have proposed likely to happen?

Jim Capretta: There’s a rule in politics when it comes to healthcare: there’s lots of big talk, but generally, and this includes the ACA, the modifications that are made are incremental. They have to build upon what exists because disruption is so politically unpopular. That was true with the Republicans when they tried and talk about repeal and replace. And it’s the same thing with Medicare for All – that’s just a very, very tough sell.

Matt Robison:  You wrote an op-ed in the New York times suggesting not just one but three ideas for compromises that can happen. What’s the first of your great ideas for health care?

Jim Capretta: There’s about 30 million individuals in the United States who don’t have full year health insurance coverage enrollment. 20 million of those folks are already eligible for either public insurance, mainly Medicaid and the children’s medical insurance program, or subsidized private insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

So what you could do is move towards something called automatic enrollment. On the federal tax form, if you were uninsured last year, and if your income is below a certain level, the States would put you into either Medicaid or one of the subsidized options through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. And this would be automatic. You could opt out if you didn’t like it. But otherwise you are in, and a lot of times you would owe no exceptional for it.

So this is a way of trying to say, look, there’s literally tens of millions of individuals out there who are considered uninsured, but really should be insured because we’ve already created something for them. Let’s figure out how to get them into it.

Matt Robison: So with a very simple change…we could add millions of people?

Jim Capretta: That’s right. This is a way of the government trying to get on the side of people and state, let’s make it easy for you.

PoliticusUSA readers – and my podcast listeners – say they want more thoughtful, positive analysis covering not just our problems, but also some solutions. This excerpt is from my brand-new podcast that does exactly that, called “Great Ideas.” Each week, the host interviews a different policy expert from across the political spectrum who offers constructive ideas for how to fix our challenges.

In  collaboration with PoliticusUSA, we’ll be offering excerpts in this space every week.  I hope you’ll keep coming back to read more, and also subscribe to the podcast. To hear Jim Capretta’s other innovative ideas for health care, my discussion with PoliticusUSA Editor-in-Chief Sarah Jones, and to subscribe, check out the full episode Apple, Spotify, Google, Anchor, Breaker, Pocket, RadioPublic, or Stitcher.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.