President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has officially taken office amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue battling this virus, it's no surprise that the issue of healthcare was one of the most important topics on the campaign trail. Now that we've shifted into a new era of leadership, what changes can Americans expect to see when it comes to healthcare?
As far as healthcare and the impact Biden may have on coverage for Americans, we’re primarily seeing two topics of conversation - the future of the Affordable Care Act and the handling of COVID-19.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
Since becoming the front-runner of the Democratic party back in early 2020, Biden made it clear that he intends to offer a public plan option for Americans. This option would operate similar to Medicare, and continue building on the foundation Obama set in place through Obamacare.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act protects people with pre-existing conditions - such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Additionally, it limits out-of-pocket expenses users pay for doctor visits and medical expenses, as well as require employers with 50+ employees to offer insurance coverage.
Currently, around 27.9 million (or 8.5 percent) Americans are uninsured.1 Biden has pledged on the campaign trail to lower this number to three percent.
Affordability of a Public Plan Option
Currently, Obamacare plan options have a limit of charging 9.86 percent of household earnings for a health insurance plan. Biden’s new plan proposes a decrease in cost limits to 8.5 percent.2
Biden’s plan also proposes an elimination of the tax credit income cap, currently set at 400 percent of the federal poverty line.2 This would allow more Americans to be eligible to receive tax credits that assist in offsetting the cost of plan premiums.
Biden has included a plan to regulate and oversee new drug prices, as well as lower Medicare prescription prices and eliminate advertising tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies.
Speaking of Medicare, the Biden administration has also proposed a drop in age eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 60.
Obviously, we can’t talk healthcare in 2021 without diving into the topic of COVID-19 and Biden’s plan for it.
On his campaign website, Biden has outlined some clear direction for how he proposes to handle COVID-19 as president. His plan includes:3
- Free and reliable access to testing for every American, as overseen by a Pandemic Testing Board
- Hiring 100,000+ workers to build a national contact tracing workforce
- Premium pay for health care workers
- Emergency paid leave for those who have contracted COVID-19
In terms of restoring the economy to pre-pandemic levels of growth, the Biden administration emphasizes the importance of establishing a “rigorous public health response” in order to navigate a “stronger, more effective reopening.”3
Healthcare has remained top of mind for many Americans amidst the pandemic. If you’re wondering how the Biden administration’s proposed healthcare changes may affect your current coverage, you can always reach out to your company’s HR department, insurance provider or financial professional for guidance.
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