The patient protections provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have enabled as many as 1.9 million Kentuckians to receive needed health coverage and care without falling victim to harmful insurance company practices. If these vital protections end through a repeal of the ACA, the effects would be widespread and dangerous, particularly for children, seniors and those with disabilities and chronic diseases.
According to a state-by-state analysis by Families USA, here is what is at stake in Kentucky:
- 1.9 million Kentuckians with conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer could be denied insurance coverage.
- 1.9 million privately insured Kentuckians (including 397,000 children) as well as 863,000 seniors on Medicare could lose free preventative care like immunizations, blood pressure screenings and cancer screenings.
- 1.4 million Kentuckians, 362,000 of whom are children, could see caps placed on the amount an insurer would spend over each person’s lifetime — cutting off coverage for the sickest individuals when they most need it.
- Women could be charged premiums as high as 57 percent more than men.
- All insured Kentuckians could lose protection from being overcharged by insurance companies. Since the ACA was passed, companies have refunded Kentuckians $33.3 million that wasn’t needed for administration or care.
- The ACA included a provision that closed the so-called “donut hole” (a glitch in Medicare prescription coverage that led to some prescription drugs being out of reach). But an ACA repeal would mean disabled and older Kentuckians would pay more for prescription drugs. These vulnerable Kentuckians have saved $405 million in prescription drug costs. The average savings for affected Kentuckians was $1,108 in 2015 alone.
It is widely expected that the ACA will be partially repealed through a legislative procedure known as Budget Reconciliation in January. Although it is not clear which protections Congress would roll back specifically, at this point all are at risk, especially since they were designed to be inter-related.
Loss of these important patient protections would contribute to and compound the massive rise in the number of Kentuckians without insurance that would happen with ACA repeal, and otherwise decrease access to needed care. As lawmakers in Washington begin to make decisions about the future of healthcare in America, the protections afforded in the ACA should be built on, not rolled back.