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If Passed, the New Health Care Bill Could Leave Millions of Americans Uninsured

Capitol Building Health CareICYMI, there's a lot happening with health care these days. With President Trump and the rest of the Republican party on a mission to repeal Obamacare, a new health care bill—the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—is slowly inching its way toward becoming law.

While there's been a lot of speculation over what exactly it would mean for the health of the American public (and for women in particular), there's one thing that's a pretty good guess: The new law would leave 14 million more people uninsured in 2018 vs. if Obamacare stayed in place, leading to an estimated total of 51 million uninsured people under age 65 in 2026, according to a release by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The bill was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month and is now in the hands of the Senate—sending the country into a flurry over the possible effects of the AHCA. Just to name a few: There might be some serious changes to female reproductive rights (like the end of birth control being covered 100 percent by insurance and lack of coverage for some maternity services); things like sexual assault and c-sections may be considered pre-existing conditions; and Planned Parenthood could be completely defunded.

But this isn't just a women's health issue. Health care premiums would likely vary significantly based on health status and the types of benefits provided, and less-healthy people would face extremely high premiums, according to the CBO. "In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services," according to the release. Nongroup enrollees are people who purchase health care individually versus through a group or employer.

The effects of the AHCA may depend on where you live. The new law contains an amendment that will allow states to request waivers to ignore certain market regulations put in place by Obamacare, allowing health care companies in those states to do things like deny coverage or base premiums on pre-existing conditions. The CBO estimates that about half the population resides in states that would not request waivers, about one-third of the population resides in states that would make moderate changes to market regulations, and about one-sixth of the population resides in states that would obtain waivers.

Though one-sixth of the U.S. population may not seem like a lot, it equates to about 53.5 million Americans—and some public policy experts are saying that a single state's decision to adopt a waiver could have effects across state lines, weakening protections for people across every state. This amendment may also allow states to define their own "essential health benefits," rather than comply with the list of 10 categories of mandatory health benefits (from prescription drugs to emergency services and maternity care) that all plans need to offer, as put in place by Obamacare.

While this is all still very TBD, it's best to get a handle on the possible changes now, so you can be prepared and make sure your health is covered (...and maybe go get an IUD before prices skyrocket).

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