WASHINGTON (AP) — THE ISSUE: About 9 in 10 Americans now have health insurance, more than at any time in history. But progress is incomplete, and the future far from certain. Millions remain uninsured. Quality is still uneven. Costs are high and trending up again. Medicare’s insolvency is two years closer, now projected in 2028. Every family has a stake.
WHERE THEY STAND
WHY IT MATTERS
Patients from all over the world come to America for treatment. U.S. research keeps expanding humanity’s ability to confront disease. But the U.S. still spends far more than any advanced country, and its people are not much healthier.
Obama’s progress reducing the number of uninsured may be reaching its limits. Premiums are expected to rise sharply in many communities for people covered by his namesake law, raising concerns about the future.
The health care overhaul did not solve the nation’s longstanding problem with costs. Total health spending is picking up again, underscoring that the system is financially unsustainable over the long run. Employers keep shifting costs to workers and their families.
No one can be denied coverage anymore because of a pre-existing condition, but high costs are still a barrier to access for many, including insured people facing high deductibles and copayments. Prescription drug prices — even for some generics — are another major worry.
The 2016 election offers a choice between a candidate of continuity — Clinton — and a Republican who seems to have some core beliefs about health care, but lacks a coherent plan.
If the presidential candidates do not engage the nation in debating the future of health care, it still matters.
Even if you’re healthy, deeper national debt affects the economy and in some way everyone’s standard of living, especially the next generation. If the government has to spend more on health care, it comes at the expense of more debt, cuts in something else or higher taxes.
America’s problem with health care spending can’t be ignored or wished away. Political leaders can postpone hard choices, but that will mean consequences even more wrenching when the bill comes due.
This story is part of AP’s “Why It Matters” series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters
EDITOR’S NOTE _ One in an AP series examining issues at stake in the presidential election and how they affect people