How Will The GOP Health Care Plan Affect Insurance Costs?
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
We're going to start this hour by talking about the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. In a moment, we'll hear from a group that has come out against the plan, the AARP.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
But first, we'll hear about a few parts of the proposal as it stands now. One big element of the Republican plan would change how the ACA subsidizes work. It would be a one-time annual tax credit based more on age than on income.
SHAPIRO: Lynn Barton (ph) of Houston, Texas, is one of the people the proposal would affect.
LYNN BARTON: Prior to ACA, I couldn't get decent insurance.
SHAPIRO: Barton makes about $22,000 a year running a pet-sitting business. She also has Type 2 diabetes. Because she makes so little, under the Affordable Care Act, Lynn Barton gets $335 a month off her exchange insurance.
SIEGEL: Under the GOP proposal, Barton wouldn't get that subsidy on her monthly premium. Instead, she would receive a tax credit of $3,500 a year based on her age and income. That's not a huge difference, just about $500 total over the course of the whole year. But Barton says that's difference enough.
BARTON: That is not as good as what I'm getting now. So I really fail to see how this is going to save me money. I'm not seeing it.
SHAPIRO: The GOP proposal would save money for 24-year-old Cecelia Roeder. She lives in Arizona, where she works in marketing. Roeder isn't eligible for health insurance through her current job because she works part-time. But she says she can't really justify paying for a plan because she's young and healthy.
CECELIA ROEDER: I mean, I'd like some insurance. But it's not a major priority because I don't need it right now. I mean I'm healthy. You know, I don't require medication. You know, I'm not ill.
SIEGEL: To encourage healthy people to buy insurance, the Affordable Care Act has a mandate. People who don't have coverage like Cecelia Roeder are penalized. Last year, that penalty cost her $600.
ROEDER: I personally was affected by that. I couldn't afford health insurance. And having, you know, dollars taken out of my tax return when that was enacted and the penalty became active, that was frustrating because I was being, you know, penalized because I couldn't afford health care.
SIEGEL: Roeder says that's the one thing she likes about the GOP plan. There would be no penalties if you don't have insurance.
SHAPIRO: There are a number of things that wouldn't change under the Republican proposal. Insurers can't place a lifetime cap on coverage. People under 26 years old can stay on their parents' plan. And insurers must cover people regardless of any preexisting conditions.
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