New York, United States – After less than a month of President Donald Trump and his team of business-friendly nationalists occupying the West Wing, his predecessor, Barack Obama, already seems like a dot fast disappearing on the horizon.
Trump and his fellow Republicans have long vowed to rip up Obama’s legacy. Headlining their agenda is the low-cost healthcare policy that bears his name – Obamacare – which looks bound for the dustbin of history.
To many in the rich world, delivering reasonably priced healthcare for all is viewed as a job for government. But the US plays by its own rules. Americans are typically insured by employers or expect to pay doctor’s bills from their own pocket.
When it was passed in 2010, Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it is formally known, was designed to provide reasonably priced health insurance to the estimated 15 percent of Americans who were not covered.
It did this by offering discounts on government-backed health insurance plans that are sold through exchanges – with websites akin to online shopping and travel sites – where buyers can compare prices for coverage.
The law also stopped insurance firms from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health problems, let individuals stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, and enlarged the government-run Medicaid scheme for the poor.
By obliging all Americans to get coverage, the ACA sought to get more young, healthy people to buy into policies and spread the cost of the medical bills being racked up by millions of older and sicklier folks.
Conservatives rejected Obamacare from day one. They called it a poorly executed “job killer” that impinged on private businesses and individuals and sent insurance bills up.