As the year moves along, and we draw ever closer to Election Day in November, the political discourse is heating up at a steady pace. Like the rest of you, I’m already dreading the coming onslaught of political ads.
Last month's attempt by Republicans to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
and the subsequent veto by President Obama have ensured the topic of health care remains firmly entrenched on the front pages and at the top of Americans’ minds (not that it ever really went away.)
In particular, the topic of health care costs continues to generate discussion — and concern — heading into the election.
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that candidates’ plans to reduce health care costs are a top priority for Americans, second only to national security.
Sixty-two percent of respondents — including 62 percent of Republican voters and 67 percent of Democrats — said they want to know about presidential candidates’ plans for reducing health care costs
, including rising drug prices, insurance premiums and deductibles.
Meanwhile, 40 percent of respondents have seen health care cost increases in the past year, while more than 30 percent report spending more on prescriptions over the same period.
A separate survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times found that even among insured Americans, 20 percent of those under age 65 had trouble paying medical bills in the past year. Things are even worse among the uninsured, with more than half (53 percent) saying they struggled to pay medical bills during the past year. In other words, approximately 1 in 4 Americans are currently severely burdened by medical costs.
Given the clear message from the electorate, candidates are finally starting to offer a few more details about their health care-related plans after months of vague, unsatisfying promises (unless maybe Trump's guarantee of a PPACA replacement that will be “something terrific” actually did put a few voters’
minds at ease?).
The increased scrutiny brought about by more frequent presidential debates and national interviews means it's time for candidates to put up or shut up. (Here's more on the candidates’ views on PPACA and the future of health care). Americans, no matter their political bent, remain unhappy with the state of the nation's health care system and are demanding answers. While there are plenty of other topics that will generate heated conversations around the water cooler and awkward silences at the dinner table, the current turmoil facing our industry is sure to remain in the national spotlight for the foreseeable future.
Stay tuned. I won't pretend to know exactly what will happen next, but I can guarantee that it won't be boring. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be skipping over attack ads, wincing my way through political debates, and bookmarking my favorite fact-checking websites. Well, either that or re-watching “House of Cards.”
Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com