The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Health Care Crisis Continues for Working People

Dec 8, 2014

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides unaffordable “care” for millions. Before this law went into effect, working people faced a real crisis in health care. Millions were without insurance, and even for those with insurance, the cost of healthcare was out of control. By 2013, the average worker was spending $380 a month for family coverage, up almost 40 percent since 2007, for a plan that covered less than it had six years earlier.

With the Affordable Care Act, working people still face the same crisis in health care because that law, and in fact the whole health care system, is designed to give profits to big corporations, not health care to the population. As a result, the decent plans are unaffordable, and the affordable plans are almost worthless.

The cheapest “bronze plans” are still not cheap: in the Chicago area the average 40-year old buying a bronze plan will pay $243 a month. And these plans are barely worth having. In Illinois, the average bronze plan had a deductible of $5,600. This means someone with this plan would have to spend $5,600 out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. And bronze plans generally only pay 60 percent of medical bills after that.

This means that even with health insurance, many people skip medical care because they still can’t afford it. One study found that 40 percent of people with high deductible plans said they had delayed needed care in the last year because they couldn’t afford it.

And even the “gold” plans only pay 80 percent of health care costs, so even someone who pays the high deductibles to get a gold plan will still have huge out-of-pocket expenses if they get very sick or need an expensive operation.

It’s true that many people get government subsidies to help pay their premiums. But for most people they still don’t make health insurance in any way “affordable.” And these subsidies are just one more way to hand our tax money to these private companies.

In 2015 these plans will get worse. The average premium for low-cost plans is going up by about 6 percent. Insurers have also increased deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, reduced the number of treatments they cover, and narrowed the list of providers in their networks.

So no, the Affordable Care Act has not made health care affordable for workers.

High quality health care could be made available for everyone in the U.S., at a much lower cost than the country spends now. But that would mean interrupting the flow of corporate profits. The politicians will never do that. It will be up to the workers to put our hands on that wealth to create a system designed to provide health care, instead of profits.