Healthcare is a hot button issue in the upcoming presidential race. As you are likely aware, healthcare costs are continuing to rise with seemingly no end in sight. And it’s because healthcare is a super large expense in most household budgets. with medical expenses accompanied with more and more out of pocket costs disrupting our finances.
This ends up being a very personal topic for all of us – myself included. And understandably it’s a huge topic as all of us in an election year
So today I’m looking at how the healthcare landscape could change with the next president. With such a large field of Democrats at the moment, I’ve chosen to cover the top 4 candidates (Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg) as well as two Republican candidates (President Donald Trop and Governor Bill Weld) and their vision for healthcare in America.
President Donald Trump
American Patients First
As the sitting president, Trump has already enacted his plan for healthcare.
The ‘American Patients First’ plan is aimed at reforming pricing structures of drug companies so that Americans are offered better prices on medications. This plan is also intended to improve medicare guidelines, as well as offer more affordable care for people living with HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, pediatric cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Removing Obamacare guidelines
Additionally, Trump is working to remove the guidelines of Obamacare in order to force insurance companies to compete for their customers.
Removing ACA mandate
President Trump removed the Affordable Care Act mandate that all individuals need to have healthcare. Now, those who opt to have no healthcare will not be subject to a fine like they were under Obamacare.
Transparent healthcare costs
President Trump is currently working on plans to make healthcare costs more transparent to patients. According to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services is “finalizing a rule that will require hospitals to make prices publicly available online”.
This is intended to help patients find procedure rates and services easily, so they can make the best decision as to where to get medical care.
Former Governor Bill Weld
Weld is running in the Republican primaries against a handful of competitors. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with Obamacare, but he wants to tweak it by adding more market mechanisms that will allow consumers to choose their healthcare provider with more affordability. This would allow consumers to purchase their drugs wherever they need to whether that is in or out of their home area.
As governor of Massachusetts, Weld petitioned the federal government for additional Medicaid funding. As of now, Weld has not given us a lot of information on his official healthcare plan. My guess is that this will change in the coming months.
Vice President Joe Biden
Building on the Affordable Care Act
Instead of starting from scratch, Biden hopes to build upon the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA). Back in 2010, Biden stood by President Barack Obama as he signed the ACA into law. Although that bill has faced some scrutiny, Biden has chosen to stand by it.
The legislation led to coverage for over 100 million people that previously had to worry about coverage denial or higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions. Additionally, insurance companies were no longer able to set annual or lifetime limitations on coverage.
Perhaps most relevant for young people, anyone under the age of 26 has the option to stay on their parent’s insurance plan.
Reducing healthcare costs
To build on the ACA, Biden hopes to provide Americans with more choices through a public health insurance option and reduce healthcare costs by partnering with the medical industry.
Making the healthcare system easier to navigate
Biden also wants to make the healthcare system less difficult to navigate by eliminating ‘surprise billing’ and tackling the market concentration effects in our current healthcare landscape. According to his campaign website, the plan would save middle-class families $750 a month. The plan to pay for this reform is by increasing long-term capital gains taxes.
What Biden’s plans mean for you
Since Biden hopes to continue expanding the ACA, many things will remain the same. There will still be an open market for healthcare. But Biden hopes to also work towards curing devastating illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Medicare for All
Both in the 2016 and 2020 elections, Sanders has distinguished himself alongside Medicare for All, a universal healthcare plan that would eliminate private insurance. Simply put, all Americans would have access to healthcare coverage to allow Americans from all walks of life to seek medical care without worrying about how to pay for it.
Traditionally, becoming a W2 employee is the quickest way to secure healthcare benefits. This leads to a lack of options for stay-at-home parents, freelancers, new business owners, or anyone that makes ends meet with a variety of side hustles.
As far as costs, the plan is expected to cost around $1.38 trillion to run each year. Additionally, through negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, Sanders plans to reduce total healthcare spending by $6 trillion over the next 10 years.
To pay for the program, Sanders has proposed an increase in taxes from several sources.
Lowering the cost of prescription drugs
Bernie’s plan includes goals to:
- use vaccines effectively
- make mental health services available
- educate the public about nutrition
- and control prescription drug costs
In order to make these ambitious plans happen, Sanders has introduced three additional bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs:
- The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act
- The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act
- The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act
Each of these has the aim of controlling prescription costs through government intervention.
Reducing medical debt
He plans to cancel around $81 billion dollars of U.S. medical debt and wants to institute a public registry that will eliminate the concept of healthcare debt.
Additionally, he wants to ensure that mental health patients receive the treatment they so desperately need.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Warren vows to expand healthcare coverage during her first 100 days of office.
Medicare for All
Warren has clarified that her plan is to pass a Medicare for All system by the end of the her third year in office, and this would cover all Americans. It would cost an estimated 20.5 trillion in new federal spending over a decade, and Warren would plan to impose new taxes on the richest Americans and businesses as well.
Here’s more about her plan:
Better mental health services
With the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, Warren wants to provide mental health services to those who need it. The act would require insurance companies to provide the appropriate mental health services to patients in need. Plus, she wants the Department of Health and Human Services to work towards improving insurance company compliance on this issue.
Lower the cost of prescription drugs
Warren has introduced an Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act that aims to lower prescription costs. The bill would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to step in and manufacture generic drugs to replace extremely expensive prescription drugs. Warren also wants to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug costs across the board.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg has a different strategy for healthcare. Instead of Medicare for All, he calls it Medicare for All Who Want It.
Medicare for All Who Want It
The goal is to work towards universal healthcare without disrupting the marketplace and allowing time for the U.S. economy to adapt. Buttigieg’s plan involves a Medicare-type public option that will be available for everyone. People can choose to buy into it or not. However, unless private insurers offer a lower cost option, then most people, he maintains, would likely make the switch.
Prescription drugs, the opioid epidemic, and mental health
Buttigieg’s plan calls for scrutinizing nonprofit hospital’s tax-exempt statuses and lowering the cost of out-of-network charges including reducing the cost of prescription drugs. Buttigieg also discusses at length the importance of combating the opioid and methamphetamine epidemics and assuring that Americans will have universal access to prevention and treatment for mental illness and addiction.
Like you, I know from watching the political landscape that healthcare is one of those divisive issues. All of the plans from the candidates above aim to make healthcare more accessible, but only time will tell how these proposed changes will unfold.
I’ll be very interested to see what happens.
For the moment, as we wait and see, you can always do the following: reduce the worry of healthcare emergency costs by building an emergency fund or contributing to an HSA. Both are viable ways to safeguard yourself in case of an unforeseen medical emergency in our current healthcare landscape.