What happens if the Republican Party goes through with its plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting any kind of replacement bill?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republican-backed Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 — which passed a Senate vote in late 2015 but died due to President Obama’s veto — would drastically slash the number of Americans who have health insurance, while at the same time ensuring higher premiums and chaos in the insurance market.
Below, we’ll go through the CBO’s five biggest reasons the GOP’s repeal plan is a disaster for American health care.
- 18 million Americans would lose their insurance in the span of a year. Under the bill passed by Republicans — which would keep insurance market reforms in place but would gut both the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for people to buy private insurance — an estimated 18 million people would lose their health insurance within just one year.
- An additional 9 million would lose their insurance shortly after the first year of repeal. Once the elimination of both subsidies and expanded Medicaid happen, the number of people who lose their insurance thanks to the legislation will total 27 million. Over the long run, the CBO projects that the number of uninsured in the U.S. would increase by 32 million by 2026 over what it would have been without repealing the ACA.
- Premiums on the individual market would skyrocket by 20% to 25% relative to where they’d be without repeal within a year. In part because the GOP plan still bars insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, insurance premiums on the individual market would increase by as much as 25% within a year of Obamacare repeal, as insurers would scramble to raise prices to cover the costs of insuring more sick people.
- Premiums would then go up by 50% after the GOP eliminates the Medicaid expansion and private insurance subsidies. Once people who buy insurance individually lose access to subsidies to help them offset the costs, insurers will raise prices even higher — in fact, the CBO estimates that “premiums would about double by 2026” under the GOP’s bill.
- Half the country would be stuck in an area where no insurers would offer them non-group coverage. As if the projected price increases for individual market buyers weren’t bad enough, the CBO also says that many insurers will simply pull out of individual markets in many places, as “about half of the nation’s population lives in areas that would have no insurer participating in the nongroup market in the first year after the repeal of the marketplace subsidies took place.”
Republicans are already crying foul on the CBO’s report, however, as Rep. Steve Scalise (R – LA) took to Twitter to claim that “Obamacare will be replaced with lower costs and more choices.”
CBO misses the point. Obamacare will be replaced with lower costs and more choices.
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 17, 2017
Given that the GOP hasn’t yet agreed on a replacement plan for Obamacare, however, the CBO can’t analyze what effects it would have on the market.