May 30, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Back in March, President Trump and Speaker Ryan failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The GOP bill was called the American Health Care Act. The bill failed because members of the House’s Freedom Caucus refused to vote for it. The GOP leadership made changes to the AHCA and passed it earlier this month. The bill now sits in the Senate, awaiting another debate. In its current form, what would the American Health Care Act do?

After the new health care bill passed the house, the Congressional Budget Office released a study of its impact on health-insurance coverage. Compared with current law, the CBO predicts, 14 million more people would not have health insurance in 2018. On average, premiums would decline because insurance companies would offer plans with fewer benefits. On the other hand, out-of-pocket costs would rise for buyers of plans with limited coverage.

Coverage would decline because the AHCA would tighten eligibility for Medicaid. Federal subsidies for health insurance would also be eliminated. States could also seek waivers for Obamacare requirements. This includes loosening price controls based on risk factors like age and pre-existing conditions.

The new bill also removes a requirement that insurance companies offer plans with essential health benefits. Under Obamacare essential health benefits include emergency room visits, preventative care, mental health, and maternity care.

The AHCA creates uncertainty about health care coverage and costs for many Americans. By dropping essential health benefits some consumers will see their insurance coverage and cost change. With on-going changes to health care legislation, what can people do to improve their health care outcomes and reduce their costs? One big way people are taking more control is by collecting and organizing their health care data.

Data on a person’s health are usually gathered from doctor visits or self-measurement with a wearable device. For example, one of the most popular wearable devices is the FitBit Alta, which tracks a person’s heart rate. And consumers can organize their health care data with Microsoft HealthVault. HealthVault organizes data including medical records, diet, and exercise. It lets people share their data with their doctors to make treatment decisions. This saves time and money, while leading to better outcomes. 

While the government tries top-down solutions, it is essential that individuals consider ways to improve their health and lower their costs without government intervention. 

Theodore Cangero

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