Invoking the ancient healing commitment to “first, do no harm,” the AMA’s guiding principle is individuals who have health insurance should not lose their coverage as a result of efforts to reform the U.S. health system. That is because the evidence shows that uninsured patients live sicker and die younger than patients with insurance coverage.
The AMA’s commitment to health care reform is ongoing because there remain millions of people who are uninsured and therefore lack meaningful access to the right care at the right time to help them live long, healthy lives.
Significant gains in reducing the number of uninsured were recorded after implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but millions remain without coverage. The AMA has long advocated health insurance for all Americans, so the organization opposed bills that were introduced last year that, according to the analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would have resulted in millions of people losing their coverage.
The AMA’s aim is to move forward and continue to get more people covered and to provide better access to high-quality care. Toward this end, the AMA vision for health-system reform includes:
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Guaranteed issue regardless of health status.
- Parental coverage for young adults.
- Stabilizing and strengthening the individual insurance market
- Guaranteeing that Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other safety net programs are adequately funded.
- Reducing regulatory burdens that detract from patient care and increase costs.
About 28.3 million people lack health insurance coverage in the U.S., putting the uninsured rate at 8.8 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Various strategies should be initiated to continue to lower the nation’s uninsured rate, including improving health insurance affordability so that more people are able to afford coverage offered on health insurance exchanges.
The AMA advocates extending eligibility for premium tax credits to 500 percent of the federal poverty level, from 400 percent. Also, the AMA supports providing young adults who are eligible for premium tax credits with additional tax credit dollars so that more of them become insured.
These recommendations were adopted as AMA policy as part of the AMA Council on Medical Service’s report, “Improving Affordability in the Health Insurance Exchanges.”