If Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins the election next month and is able to get his health care plan enacted, 72 million Americans would be uninsured by 2022, according to a new study released by the private foundation, The Commonwealth Fund.
This compares to 27 million left uninsured by the same time if President Barack Obama's Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) was kept in place with his re-election.
The report's lead author, Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund, said:
"There are stark differences between what each candidate has proposed for our health care system, and this report shines a light on how Americans might be affected, based on their age, their income, and where they live. The report finds that repealing the ACA would significantly increase the number of Americans without health insurance, limiting their ability to get the health care they need and exposing them to burdensome medical bills and debt."
The analysis was conducted by economist Jonathan Gruber, who also advised the policymakers that wrote the ACA.
According to the U.S. government, there are currently more than 48 million Americans, or about 16 percent of the population, without health insurance.
Some of the ACA has already gone into effect, including free preventative women's health care, not allowing insurance companies to deny people with pre-existing coverage, and allowing young adults 26 and under to be covered by their parent's plans. Many of the proposed changes, however, will not go into effect until 2014, such as implementing near universal health care coverage, and including steps like expanding Medicaid plans to cover more low income people and organizing state regulated plans that people may choose from.
The Commonwealth Fund, which has supported Obama's ACA, says that if all the intended changes were made, 23 million more Americans would have insurance.
In comparison, the Commonwealth Fund's analysis showed that 12 million fewer Americans would receive health insurance under Romney's plan.
Romney has pledged to repeal the ACA and instead implement his own changes. Romney believes that his changes would encourage more private insurance incentives instead of state-decided plans and would give individuals more say in choosing a plan that is right for them.
The analysis also discovered that Romney's plan would not only cover fewer Americans, but it would also cost Americans more money. People who choose to buy health insurance on their own would pay 14 percent of their income, compared to 9 percent under the ACA. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation added that repealing the ACA would cost a federal budget deficit of $109 billion between 2013 and 2022.
Romney's campaign has already spoken out against the fund's study, stating that the results were fake. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said:
"The Commonwealth study sadly contributes little to the health reform conversation that this country deserves. It badly mistakes Governor Romney's proposals. Worse, it assumes a fantasy world where Obamacare has been a success. Instead, Americans have seen their insurance premiums increase, small businesses are facing massive tax increases, and seniors will have reduced access to Medicare services. The simple truth is this: The American people do not want this law, we cannot afford this law, and when Mitt Romney is President he will repeal it and replace it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that strengthen our health care system."
Romney has not given exact details, but has at least laid out a broad framework for his health care proposal. Under his plan, individuals would choose which private company they want to be insured by based on their needs instead of opting for state-selected plans like under the ACA. Individuals would pay for that plan with funds from a personal health savings account (HSA) and be aided by tax breaks. Employers would deposit money into HSAs, and then the employee would choose the health care company.
Romney's plan would continue to allow for some ACA provisions like free annual wellness exams and eliminating the prescription drug benefit's donut hole, and would, in theory, push people towards high-deductible plans. But, instead of being mandated by the federal government to include these benefits, consumers could choose a company that includes these provisions. This way, people will only pay for what they want coverage for.