With the health insurance open enrollment period beginning and Election Day on the horizon, there are significant intersections between health and politics in the United States right now.

Healthcare Bills on the Ballot

In Palo Alto, California, voters must decide the fate of Measure F, an amendment to the Palo Alto Municipal Code that would limit how much healthcare providers could charge patients. If passed, providers in the municipality could not charge more than 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care. The political battle over the initiative has been costly, with proponents and opponents of this measure and the similar Measure U in Livermore, CA, spending a total of more than $10 million to promote their talking points.

Changes to the Health Insurance Exchange

If you buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare)’s Health Insurance Marketplace, you could be seeing some changes this year – some for better and some for worse. Open enrollment for purchasing 2019 healthcare coverage on the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace began on November 1, 2018.

In Pennsylvania, the good news is that patients in nearly half of PA counties have a greater number of insurers to choose from for 2019, the Public Opinion Network reported. The bad news is that patients in some areas, like Franklin County, still have just a couple of insurers participating in the market – and as a result, very few choices when it comes to coverage.

The plans themselves might also be changing. As a result of a rule made by the Trump administration to extend the length of less comprehensive short-term plans to as many as 364 days, rather than 90 days, patients can get almost a year’s worth of coverage for a cheaper amount. However, there’s a tradeoff, according to USA TODAY. These plans cost less because they cover less, lacking the essential health benefits covered by regular annual plans and the protections against limiting coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Mixing Healthcare and Politics in 2018

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The Politics of Healthcare

In today’s climate, politics and healthcare converge on many points. The results could last far beyond 2019 and impact issues the average American isn’t even aware of, like privacy. In fact, losing protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) could ultimately mean that health insurers could use data such as patients’ online purchasing histories and participation in retail loyalty programs to charge higher premiums, Politico reported.

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