Photo by Marc Nozell

We are in the beginnings of an election year in the United States and the first primary votes to determine the Democratic nominee will be cast in the coming weeks. Healthcare costs remain a top concern for voters, and candidates have developed varying proposals to improve healthcare, reform the current system, and reduce healthcare costs in the U.S.   Independent Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has long championed the ideal of single payer healthcare, often referred to as Medicare for All in the U.S. In a single payer system, the federal government fully covers every service and procedure, including dental, vision, long-term care and abortion, with no out-of-pocket charge to patients. Bernie Sanders has often claimed Medicare for All is the

only way to address deeper problems in the United States healthcare system, from medical bankruptcies to high maternal mortality rates, especially among poor and minority women. Senator Sanders has proposed allowing importing medication from abroad at lower costs and the creation of a government bureau to set drug prices based on their costs in countries like Canada, United Kingdom, and Japan. That bureau would also consider a drug’s research and development costs and federal investments that contributed to its development; if companies don't comply with the price, the government could let other companies produce the drug. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren joins Sanders in supporting a single-payer healthcare system, though has indicated that she would wait until later in her term to make such a…

Health care in America was a constant subject of conversations in public venues and political forums in 2017. There has been confusion about health insurance, failed legislation, Executive Orders reversing Obamacare guidelines, tax plans affecting healthcare costs, and the failure to fund healthcare programs that cover millions of low-income Americans. People in the United States continue to count healthcare costs as a major concern. We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical, but it is difficult to avoid the partisan nature of the changes in health care in America since the Trump administration’s inauguration last year. Donald Trump ran on the platform of repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA; Obamacare), saying it would be “so easy.” He claimed his Obamacare replacement would have “insurance for everybody” and that “Everybody’s

going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” In practice, all “Trumpcare” bills failed to pass through Congress due to bipartisan disagreement over the destabilization they would cause in millions of Americans to losing insurance and the expected increase in premium costs.   Meaningful legislation did not affect Obamacare until Executive Orders allowing insurers to offer low-benefit insurance plans and ending subsidies to insurance companies that help cover low-income Americans. The ACA was also impacted by the tax bill passed late December 2017 that included an end to the individual mandate—a rule requiring most Americans to have health coverage designed to ensure that not only sick people buy insurance, thereby lowering premiums for everyone. Those…

Donald Trump, President of the United States, has taken steps to systematically change America’s health insurance system. He has failed on his promise to pass healthcare reform through Congress due to lack of support, mostly from the destabilization the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) would have caused for premium costs and uninsured rates. The morning of October 12 he signed an Executive Order undermining the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and opens the door to low-benefit insurance despite lack of Congressional support. Later that night, Trump ordered an immediate end to subsidies to insurance companies that help cover low-income Americans between 100% to 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).   Trump has repeatedly called the ACA (aka Obamacare) a “disaster” that is

“failing” despite the more than 50 million uninsured in 2009 decreasing to 28 million uninsured by 2017. Since taking office the Trump administration has been criticized for “sabotaging Obamacare” by using ACA funds for anti-Obamacare ad campaigns, cutting the enrollment period in half, and planning weekly 12-hour maintenance outages to the ACA enrollment websites during the enrollment period. These most recent executive orders enables insurers to offer plans that provide few benefits, so seemingly less expensive premiums would leave patients with high out-of-pocket costs, and directly impacts low-income Americans and may lead to many losing coverage or making impossibly difficult decisions of whether to eat or receive health care. In a recent blog post we dove into the details of understanding health insurance, including…

We are getting further away from Election Day in the U.S. and getting closer to 2017, when many of the changes voted on will take effect.  Americans voted on much more than president this past November that will impact our nation’s healthcare; several states voted to allow or expand cannabis (aka marijuana) use for medicinal purposes, Colorado weighed in on assisted suicide, and California proposed price caps on prescription medications. Colorado became the fifth state to allow a person with a terminal illness to receive a prescription for life-ending drugs from a doctor, with two-thirds of Colorado voters supporting the “End of Life Options” law. The law was modeled after Oregon’s 22-year-old “Death with Dignity” law that requires two physicians to agree the patient is mentally competent and

is expected to live fewer than six months.  California, Vermont, and Washington also have similar laws allowing for physician-assisted suicide. Opponents of the law point to a lack of safeguards protecting vulnerable individuals and the possibility insurance companies could begin determining it is more cost-effective to provide medical aid in dying as opposed to lifelong medical care. California voters turned down the Drug Price Relief Act by a margin of 46% in favor versus 54% opposed. The law looked to limit what state health programs paid for medications so that they matched the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which receives the steepest discounts in the country. With the cost of prescription medications being a huge issue this election cycle, many analysts…

The United States is in the midst our presidential election at a time when healthcare is a major concern for a majority of Americans. In the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from August, two-thirds of voters said that the future of Medicare and access to affordable care are a top priority for them. The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as “Obamacare”—continues to be a polarizing issue to many despite the number of uninsured Americans falling below 29 million, or 9% of the U.S. population. We have previously covered many of the proposals from the presidential candidates during the primaries, but with less than two weeks before the general election we felt it important to cover the positions of the remaining candidates. Democrat nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary

Clinton has made healthcare a major issue in her campaign. She has defended the Affordable Care Act in speeches and pledged to improve the law as well as drop the eligible age for Medicare to 55. She has remained critical of pharmaceutical companies raising the price of life-saving medications such as EpiPens, and promised to expand access to affordable healthcare in rural America. As the first female candidate for a major American political party, Hillary Clinton is a strong defender of reproductive healthcare and a woman’s right to choose. Mental health has also been a major talking point for the Clinton campaign, promoting programs that can diagnose mental illness early and proposed a national suicide prevention initiative. She has pledged to invest in…