How to Make Healthcare more Affordable

Every American deserves accessible, affordable health insurance. Current marketplace subsidies make this possible as affordable coverage and access to care is available to a wider group of Americans. These expanded subsidies, set to expire on December 31, 2022, must be made permanent in the federal budget by the end of this year. If the expanded subsidies are allowed to expire, millions of Americans will lose coverage because they can no longer afford it. Millions more will face significant premium increases. Large numbers of Americans will be forced out of the federal insurance marketplace. And the number of uninsured Americans will grow.

The Case for Making Health Care Subsidies Permanent

  • Current subsidies make affordable coverage available to a historic number of Americans. More than 3.5 million uninsured Americans are newly eligible for relief to help pay for health care premiums since subsidies were expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Permanent subsidies mean that coverage remains affordable for many individuals and families who could otherwise not afford insurance.
  • More families would be able to afford the coverage they deserve. By ensuring the subsidies are made permanent in this year’s congressional budget, no middle-class family would have to pay more than 8.5% of its income on premiums.
  • Subsidies create lower average premium rates for all individuals purchasing coverage in the marketplace. Making them permanent ensures that reduced annual premium payments of an average of $600 per year stay in place for Americans enrolled in marketplace coverage.
  • The number of uninsured Americans would decrease. Permanent subsidies could bring down the number of uninsured Americans next year by an estimated 4.2 million.
  • Allowing the subsidies to expire would lead to significant premium increases and even loss of coverage. Premium payments could double for millions of Americans enrolled in marketplace coverage. Low-income enrollees could see especially high premium increases. Many of these individuals will lose their coverage as it becomes increasingly unaffordable

Alabama Test Case

Improving access to care is critical for one of Tuscaloosa’s largest hospitals, the DCH Regional Medical Center. It was among the 82 Alabama health care centers that received coronavirus relief funding. The hospital was awarded just over $1.6 million, among the largest appropriations in the state.

DCH Regional Medical Center, which happens to be inside Congresswoman Sewell’s district, conducts a community health needs assessment every three years. Its most recent assessment was conducted a few years ago, as more than 22,000 patients were admitted to the hospital.

As detailed in that report, the conclusion from a large stakeholder committee that pored over data and conducted numerous interviews and focus groups was that the hospital’s top priority moving forward was “access to care.”

What began in Tuscaloosa more than 100 years ago as a 12-bed hospital has now grown to be a leading champion for access to care on the front lines of a global pandemic. And hospitals across Alabama could share the same story about being a champion for patients in Alabama—because so many share the same commitment to accessible care.

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