Home » Rising Healthcare Costs Threaten Biden’s Medicare Expansions 

Rising Healthcare Costs Threaten Biden’s Medicare Expansions 

by Richard A Reagan

Despite President Joe Biden’s efforts to expand health insurance coverage—a long-standing goal of the Democratic Party—rising healthcare costs threaten to undermine these gains.

While the Biden administration has achieved a record low uninsured rate of 7.7%, a figure briefly seen last year, the practical benefits of this coverage are being questioned. 

Health insurance, on its own, does not guarantee affordable care. As the country continues to feel the effects of inflation, American voters are increasingly prioritizing the need for lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs over broader insurance coverage.

Polling by KFF earlier this year highlighted that reducing out-of-pocket expenses remains a top healthcare priority among voters, far outweighing the goal of universal insurance coverage. 

Democratic strategist Chris Jennings acknowledges this shift, “Certainly we have more people covered, whose concern has shifted from fear of being discriminated against [by insurers] to fear of not being able to access care affordably.” 

The ongoing debate around healthcare reform is expected to focus significantly on the cost of care, even for those insured. 

Larry Levitt, executive vice president of KFF, suggests that the next wave of health reforms will likely centre on alleviating the financial burden on patients rather than simply expanding coverage.

Despite attempts to control escalating costs following the Affordable Care Act, Americans continue to struggle. A survey by the Commonwealth Fund revealed that over half of individuals purchasing their insurance found healthcare barely affordable. This sentiment is echoed by those with employer coverage, with a significant portion grappling with medical debt.

The concerns about healthcare costs are compounded by broader economic difficulties. 

Harvard professor emeritus Robert Blendon points out that healthcare costs become a more salient issue as Americans struggle to afford necessities like food and fuel. 

While healthcare remains a strong political issue for Democrats, with Biden enhancing ACA subsidies and initiating drug price negotiations under Medicare, the focus has shifted. 

Amidst these healthcare challenges, confidence in President Biden’s economic management remains historically low. 

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 38% of U.S. adults express confidence in Biden to do the right thing for the economy, a figure significantly lower than his predecessors at similar points in their presidencies. 

This lack of confidence, compounded by persistent inflation and rising national debt, could have profound implications for the upcoming electoral cycles.

As the Biden administration continues to push for expansive health coverage, the real test will be its ability to manage the escalating costs that threaten to overshadow these gains.

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