The 2018 Midterm Election is upon us, and once again, politicians are ramping up rhetoric about healthcare.
And rightly so. According to a report by the Wesleyan Media Project, healthcare is the top issue of concern to voters in the November General Election.
Similarly, new NPR/PBS/Marist Poll finds healthcare as the No. 2 issue (following the economy and jobs) concerning voters in 2018 — with 17 percent saying it was the most important thing driving their vote.
Over the last month or so, nearly half of political advertisements in federal elections predominantly mentioned healthcare, and about a third of gubernatorial airings included the topic. Both parties are mentioning healthcare, but it is featured more heavily by Democratic campaigns, appearing in 54.5 percent of that party’s ads.
It’s interesting to see how the parties have treated healthcare in the last few election cycles. Wesleyan Media Project found that after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, healthcare became a prominent issue in a third of all national pro-Republican ads. Democrats, by comparison, only used it 8.7 percent of the time in 2010.
Republicans talked less about it in 2012, 2014 and 2016, as mentions declined to 28.4 percent, 20.8 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Now, in 2018, the GOP saw healthcare mentions surge to 31.5 percent of their ads — almost as much as they did when the ACA passed in 2010.
So what are they saying?
Essentially, Democrats are campaigning to save the ACA, and warn that Republicans’ current and future plans to scrap the Act will hurt Americans. Republicans, by contrast, are campaigning that they’ll come up with a replacement plan to provide healthcare to Americans by strengthening the private sector.
It’s a big deal, especially as Republicans gutted key provisions of the ACA while not replacing them. The federal mandate to purchase insurance has been all but removed, and experts predict millions more Americans will be uninsured.
Meanwhile, plenty of Americans — especially middle class Americans caught in the coverage gap — don’t see the ACA as it was as a viable answer. ACA or no ACA, prescription costs, doctor/hospital fees and insurance premiums continue to rise, with no end in sight.
Regardless of how most voters feel about each party’s strategy for healthcare, the Motley Fool’s Sean Williams said it best: government is trying to “fix” the wrong problem:
Lawmakers continue to center around the idea that access to health insurance is the biggest problem, when the issue at hand is the underlying inflation of medical care, not access to health insurance. If the cost of underlying medical care stopped outpacing inflation and wage growth nearly every year, access to health insurance wouldn’t be an issue for most folks, and we wouldn’t even be having this debate. In other words, they’re trying to fix the symptoms without getting to the root cause of the problem.
Those issues include the unchecked pricing power of the pharmaceutical industry — something Congress has only just started to pay attention to — ballooning administrative healthcare costs, rising provider costs and more. Williams summarized what we at Captiva say every day: “Congress is trying to close a gaping wound with a Band-Aid.”
If there’s anything we’ve learned watching the political landscape over the last few decades as it relates to healthcare, it’s that there haven’t been any changes that have resulted in lower overall costs to Americans.
There’s really no reason to think that with an access-minded approach to healthcare still very much ingrained in Congress, that things will be any different this time around.
But change is possible — regardless of current and future political proceedings.
Captiva Benefit Solutions and the Health Rosetta community use pricing tools and accountability measures that will provide better healthcare for less money to your employees. Your company will have the tools and partnerships available to smartly negotiate better pricing structures, demand transparency and accountability in billing, and comparison shop for the best deals.
If this is a future you’ve been waiting for, wait no longer. Let us consult with your benefits manager to share just how Captiva can make a big difference right now.