The Affordable Care Act’s future is in doubt as the conversations have turned to repeal and replacing the system. Dr. Harrison wrote about one particular aspect, the insurance exchanges, that he feels should be fixed rather than eliminating them.
The exchanges, Harrison noted, provide insurance to 14 million people nationwide. They are available to anyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. There has been large rate increases for various reasons and some insurance companies have decided to remove themselves from the exchange programs, and other insurance companies have completely closed business.
One side of the argument points to the rate increases and bankruptcies as signs that the Affordable Care Act cannot be sustained. While others argue that the exchanges give vital insurance options to some who could not obtain coverage.
“As a health system that sponsors the largest health insurer in our state (Utah), we see both sides of this issue clearly. After the exit or failure of several major carriers, we now cover more than 60 percent of the exchange members in the state,” Harrison wrote.
“Our data show that approximately 80 percent of the people who joined the exchange previously had some other source of insurance (they were not uninsured) and in most of these cases, the former source of insurance no longer exists. So simply eliminating the exchange options would result in larger numbers of uninsured than was the case prior to the initiation of the ACA.”
Dr. Harrison broke down a possible scenario where exchanges can exist, keep people insured, and help bridge the gap to a bipartisan support for healthcare coverage. The editorial can be read on CNBC website.