The passing of the American Health Care Act (better known as the abbreviated AHCA or Trumpcare) was a landmark moment in Donald Trump’s youthful presidency. It had initially appeared that the grand operational to rid America of “Obamacare” had floundered, and would be pushed to the back of the legislative agenda for the foreseeable future.
Then, it rose from the ashes, a phoenix of a bill that seemed to settle the concerns that had lead to the original vote being cancelled. It passed with a slender majority, and now goes to the Senate to be considered, before becoming law. In fairness, it is suspected the bill won’t pass the Senate without significant changes, but it still leaves the realistic possibility that Democrats feared: millions could lose healthcare coverage.
In fact, it might be even worse than that. Thanks to the removal of the necessity of coverage for pre-existing conditions (which include, by the AHCA’s definition, pregnancy or even acne – the list is long), there’s a chance that huge amounts of people will be left with ‘junk’ insurance. That is insurance that exists, but which they – thanks to the huge range of pre-existing conditions – can never realistically claim on.
It’s a rough situation, and one that merits a lot of scrutiny in future. There’s a way to go before it becomes law. However, the passage through Congress of the bill has meant that thousands of people are now wondering what happens next – especially those who rely on Obamacare or Medicaid for their healthcare coverage entirely.
Should People Worry?
It would be ideal if the dismissal of this fear was simple, but alas, it’s not. There’s good reason for those who have relied on these government coverage levels to feel concerned. The new AHCA is going to change almost everything, and could cut thousands off from potentially life-saving treatment. While the Senate will likely make changes, it’s not going to wholesale switch the bill back to what Americans recognize as their healthcare today.
The key point to remember if you are concerned about these changes is that you have got time. While the AHCA was passed quickly in its rewritten form, it nevertheless will take some time before it’s signed into law.
So, now is the time to start preparing for what happens if you lose your coverage and can’t afford to replace it.
How Did Americans Cope Before The Affordable Care Act?
Better known as “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act brought in changes to how Americans paid for their healthcare coverage. It gave insurance to millions who had otherwise been unable to afford it, or had been unable to obtain coverage due to pre-existing conditions. It was the biggest shake up of American healthcare since the war.
Before it came into law, the answer to the above question is… they didn’t. Medical expenses were the primary reason for personal bankruptcy in the USA for years. The bills for medical expenses were so high that some just couldn’t afford any kind of healthcare at all, instead resorting to cheap, at-home remedies to try and manage conditions. It was a bad situation, which is why Barack Obama felt it had to change.
How Can People Manage Without Insufficient Healthcare?
So what some Americans now face is a return to the days of lack of coverage. While those on the lowest incomes will still have some level of coverage, it’s those on lower or middle incomes that will miss out.
One thing to keep in mind if you find yourself stuck for coverage is that medical expenses are not something you can ignore. If you receive a bill from a hospital, treat it like a priority, an essential that you have to get cleared – even if that means going without in other areas of life. This can be difficult if you’re suffering an ongoing condition, but it still has to be done. Losing track of what you owe and not scrutinizing your bill can see additional charges and interest added, making a bad situation all the worse.
If you can’t afford coverage and do need medical intervention, then get ahead of it. It’s quick and easy to search for personal loans online, which you can use to clear the hospital bill. It’s still a debt, but it’s a controlled one that isn’t going to put your house on the line.
As you have warning before these changes come into law, now would be a good time to start a savings account. Separate this from your general, everyday banking and contribute to it wherever possible. Use the money in this account for medical expenses only. This is a method known as “self-insurance”, and it might be the best option if you know you’re not going to be able to afford the full monthly premium for full coverage. If you start building up your savings now, then you have a cushion to fall back on if the AHCA changes do impact you.
How Do You Cope With The Uncertainty?
The last question is more emotional than practical, but still well worth considering. One of the major issues in this debate at this point in time is the uncertainty: will it pass the Senate? What will the AHCA look like when the Senate have made their changes? Will I – or anyone I care about – be impacted by the changes?
A good rule of thumb is simply to try and prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Figure out how you would borrow money to pay any bills; have a savings stack to fall back on should you become unwell. Bear in mind that, for some people, the AHCA will save them money on their coverage – so it might not all be bad news. Keep an eye on the news and hope the Senate does you a few favors. It’s not ideal, but that’s how lawmaking goes: it takes time.