Of all the provisions maintained within the Tax Cuts and Job Act that just passed, among the most devastating is the repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, 4 million additional people will be uninsured within a year with a total of 13 million additional people uninsured by 2025.
Repealing the individual mandate means that people will have the option to opt-out of the health insurance pool, increasing premiums for those that remain within the pool. It is safe to guess that those who would choose to opt-out would be those who are healthier. Needless to say, the repeal of the individual mandate will affect those that are poorer; those from low-income families and people of color.
A group of patient and consumer groups including the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, stated in a December 12th letter to the Capitol that:
“Repealing the individual mandate without simultaneously enacting another mechanism that encourages young and healthy people to purchase insurance will destabilize current law, while also having a disproportionate impact on people with pre-existing conditions."
This provision in the Tax Cuts and Job Act means that marginalized folks will take a toll as a result of a rushed policy.
This Christmas “present” is one that may very well cost our country lives, particularly the lives of low-income people and people of color, as well as those who have pre-existing conditions.