Obamacare on the brink
If voted in, Barrett would expand the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to 6-3, a major factor in the Nov. 10 hearing on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republican lawmakers have challenged the act as unconstitutional.
Although the controversial health care law has survived numerous attempts at repeal over the past decade, Barrett’s vote could finally topple it for good.
The end of Obamacare would affect millions of Americans, including many who don’t currently rely on the law for coverage. And with an election looming, the post-ACA health care landscape will look completely different depending on what happens on Nov. 3.
Two radically different health care plans
President Trump stated during the Oct. 22 debate that he intends to end the ACA and replace it with a new plan, although the specific details of his health care strategy have yet to be announced.
“I’d like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new, beautiful health care,” Trump said. “A better health care, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions.”
The president also suggested that Biden’s plan would put an end to 180 million private health care plans, which the former vice-president disputed.
“Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan,” Biden stated. “Health care is not a privilege, it’s a right.”
Biden also questioned the president’s ability to protect those with pre-existing conditions should Obamacare be abolished.
“There’s no way he can protect pre-existing conditions,” Biden said. “He’s been talking about this for a long time. He’s never come up with a plan.”
Under Biden’s plan, the ACA would be expanded. Americans could sign up for a government-run health insurance program similar to Medicare, and the current Medicare program would be permitted to bargain down prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
What to do if Obamacare is repealed
No matter which candidate is elected, an end to the ACA would mean more than 20 million Americans will need to switch to alternative coverage.
Although the Supreme Court’s decision may not arrive until June 2021, if you’re currently covered under Obamacare it would be wise to start making plans now in case you lose your health insurance.
Here are a few options to consider:
Join your spouse or domestic partner’s plan
There’s a good chance that if you rely on the ACA, you don’t have health insurance coverage through an employer.
But if your spouse or domestic partner currently has coverage through work, you may be able to sign up for their health care plan.
Ask your partner to look into the steps involved in joining their company plan, and gather all the required documentation ahead of time if possible. That way you’ll be prepared to make the transition immediately if Obamacare ends.
Sign up for a health sharing plan
Health sharing plans are designed to provide inexpensive coverage to people who share common values and beliefs.
If you join a health sharing plan, you’ll be required to send in a monthly “share” that will be distributed among the other members of the plan who have medical expenses.
It’s important to note that many of these plans are run by religious organizations, and you may be required to make a statement of faith in order to qualify. Additionally, certain health care expenses related to things like smoking, drinking and birth control may not be covered.
Purchase private coverage
Buying private coverage outside of your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace is another option and could potentially become the norm for Americans if the ACA is repealed.
To find the lowest rate on a private policy, it’s wise to spend some time shopping around and comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies.
There are services available like SmartFinancial that will sort through hundreds of offers to find you the best rates available in your area. Comparing rates online is free and only takes a few minutes.
Other ways you can prepare
It’s essential to have a backup plan for coverage, but you may need to take some additional steps to ensure your new solution works.
Start putting some money into an emergency fund if you don’t already have one set up. Emergency savings can help offset the cost of any unexpected medical expenses as well as the potential increase to your premium that may result from switching coverage.
Plus, if you stash your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account, it will collect a solid amount of interest and grow, leaving you with more money down the road when you need it.
The next step is to examine your retirement plan, since repealing the ACA would eliminate a number of free services currently covered by Medicare and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs.
That means Americans will need to allocate more money for medical expenses when planning for their retirement. It’s worth consulting with a certified financial planner who can help you make the adjustment or create a new, personalized strategy based on your current savings and goals.
These days companies like Facet Wealth provide financial planning services that are managed entirely online, so you can prepare for your future without having to leave your living room.