Big moves are being made in Washington that will change the way Americans access health care. Here’s what you need to know as a millennial consumer.

An FKD Feature exclusive

As Republicans hammer out the American Health Care Act, we’re looking at how millennials under Trumpcare would fare.

Health care makes up nearly one-fifth of our economy, and it affects every single one of us. Any significant policy changes in this arena are closely watched, as there are few issues that have as broad of a reach as health-care reform.

It’s just getting started

It’s important to note that health care reform is extremely complicated and wildly controversial. Additionally, right now the American Health Care Act is just a draft bill and will likely undergo many revisions before it becomes law. Therefore, what we’re talking about isn’t set and done. In fact, now is the time for Americans of all political persuasions to weigh in on what’s best for all of us.

The good news

Under the present proposal, most analysts expect young Americans to pay less for health insurance under Trump Care. Millions of millennials saw a massive rise in their insurance premiums in recent years, so a reprieve from double-digit increases would be a welcome development for young people.

Additionally, insurance won’t be mandated any more, so millennials can choose to go without health insurance. Of course, it wouldn’t be an entirely free ride for those who go uninsured, as the government would allow insurers to impose a 30 percent penalty on people who have gaps in their insurance coverage.

Trumpcare retains some of the more popular policy changes that came with Obamacare, such as staying on your parent’s health-care plan until you turn 26 and not allowing insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Many proponents of Trumpcare believe that the plan is a move in the right direction for our health-care system as it embraces individual choice and free markets and constitutes a massive tax cut.

Houston, we might have a problem

If you’ve been following the latest health-care reform, you’re probably already aware of the bombshell report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that pointed out many of Trumpcare’s flaws. The biggest flaw identified by the CBO, which is being furiously disputed by the bill’s proponents, is that millions will end up uninsured under this new plan and that premiums will increase for older folks.

Just like Obamacare, Trumpcare appears to do very little to address the primary problem in American health care today — the cost of care. Unfortunately, neither political party appears to want to tackle the outrageous cost of health care.

As far as repealing the individual mandate, freedom of choice sounds like a very enticing prospect for millennials, but Trumpcare is glazing over one of the fundamental principles of insurance. As a general rule of thumb, insurance is all about pooling risk.

You pay for health insurance so you avoid a massive financial burden. Part of the deal is that you pay for other people’s problems, and they do the same for you. You spread out the risk, and young, healthy people who don’t consume a lot of health care are a critical part of making our health insurance marketplace solvent.

If millennials choose to go without health insurance in droves, the entire system could collapse. We’ve already seen how Obamacare’s policy flaws have led to entire marketplaces falling apart, and Trumpcare could result in a similar end-game.

Millennials have no incentive to pay their medical bills

Unpaid medical bills are a huge problem in the United States. In fact, 1 out of 4 Americans under the age of 65 had past-due medical bills in 2015. These unpaid bills create costs that are absorbed by those who are able to pay, hence why medicine has become so expensive. Health care remains the number one cause of bankruptcy today.

In fact, several studies point out that younger people tend to have more medical debt because they are less likely to have health insurance.

Obamacare has actually helped reduce the amount of outstanding millennial medical debt. Since Obamacare came into effect in 2010, unpaid medical debt for millennials has come down more than 20 percent because millions of us were suddenly required to have insurance.

Under Trumpcare, if we’re not required to have insurance, millions of us will choose not to pay our hospital bills. If we don’t pay, the only thing medical providers such as hospitals can do is damage our credit. But according to Nerdwallet, 43 percent of millennials already have bad credit, so millions of us won’t care when collection agencies come after us for unpaid balances and ruin our credit.

Takeaway: Ideas need some tweaking

Trump and Congressional Republicans promised to overhaul Obamacare, which has serious policy flaws and has radically increased the cost of health insurance. There is an obvious need for some sort of health-care reform, it’s more of a question of how to go about it.

The present plan does very little to address costs or increase coverage, and it creates some frightening incentives for millennials to go without insurance. If young people go without insurance and dodge their medical bills, the entire system could collapse onto itself.

But the bill is merely a proposal, so there’s time to fine tune some of the details to ensure that affordable health care is available to all Americans.

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Header image: Getty Images

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Posted 03.15.2017 - 01:44 pm EST