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Due to health insurance landscape uncertainty, consumers must prepare

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Chris Merkel
Despite health insurance landscape uncertainty, consumers must prepare
Despite health insurance landscape uncertainty, consumers must prepare

In recent months, the ways in which national and state health care laws could change dramatically have dominated headlines. However,in many cases, it's difficult to know for sure what forms these rules and regulations will take next, and how they will affect people across the country. With this in mind, it's vital for people and insurers to do as much as they can to educate themselves about these issues and create contingency plans that will allow them to keep coverage as high as possible.

Though the issue is controversial, it's important to remember that none of the health care proposals being talked about in the news today are even close to being finalized, according to a report from Barron's. With the prospect of millions of Americans losing coverage in the years to come if the current American Health Care Act proposal were to pass, experts also point out that a lack of choice among insurers is already effecting millions of Americans. About 1 in 3 counties nationwide only have one insurer offering coverage on the federally mandated exchanges, and premiums jumped 25 percent for 2017.

Lawmakers are still wrangling over significant changes to national health care laws.Lawmakers are still wrangling over significant changes to national health care laws.

Seniors hit hard
Meanwhile, experts are concerned about the ways in which rising costs would impact older Americans, according to a report from The Motley Fool. The original Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act built in significant protections for people between the ages of 50 and 64, who are not yet eligible for Medicare, but that could all change under the AHCA.

The impact of the rule changes would likely cost older Americans thousands of dollars per year, with some estimates showing nearly half of all people in this age group would see at least some uptick in their costs. And in general, the older the person, the more costly their coverage would be, the report said. One analysis of the proposal by the AARP found that a 64-year-old with an income of $15,000 annually could see their premiums rise by as much as $8,400.

Young people also impacted
In addition, younger Americans would likely also see their coverage situations change significantly, according to a report from National Public Radio. While many millennials simply don't have health insurance at all, and instead pay a fine at the end of each year for not doing so, there could be a dramatic shift if the AHCA passes as written.

"You're starting pre-ACA with an uninsurance rate of about 29 percent for young people. We see that uninsurance rate drop, over the course of the last five, six years to about 16 percent," Jen Mishory who heads an advocacy organization for millennials' health insurance, told the news organization. "That's thanks to many factors, the expansion of Medicaid, for one, and children being able to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26."

For all these reasons, it's vital for Americans of all ages to carefully assess how these proposals would end up affecting their coverage, and what they might be able to do to continue to afford their premiums.

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