As GOP candidates continue to vie for the nomination, there’s plenty of talk in the air about ACA replacement plans. Most Republican candidates express consensus on the need to overturn Obamacare and replace it with something better. But when it comes to the question of how, the answers differ wildly.

Same health care goal … very different executions

For example, both Jeb Bush and Ben Carson want to repeal and replace the ACA.

But Carson’s plan is simply to institute federally subsidized HSAs for all Americans, abandoning the existing healthcare system in favor of a completely different approach.

Bush, meanwhile, is proposing a detailed plan that would increase individual tax credits, allow higher HSA contributions to out-of-pocket expenses, repeal ACA mandates and give states more power to regulate insurance. “I won’t accept the straw man argument that the opposite of Obamacare is no care,” he said during a speech in New Hampshire.

Two credible health care alternatives: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio

It’s easy to criticize an existing plan; much more difficult to come up with a credible alternative. But that’s just what Marco Rubio and former candidate, Scott Walker have done. What do these leaders have in common? The desire “to replace Obamacare with decentralized, market-driven reforms,” said the National Review.

For example, instead of protecting those with pre-existing conditions by banning adjustments and mandating coverage as the ACA does, Walker’s plan would protect them from rate hikes only if they maintain continuous coverage. In other words, the incentive to stay insured is built in (no need to mandate coverage), while insurers recover some of their freedom to make adjustments.

There are differences, too, of course. Walker wants to leave employer coverage alone, while providing tax credits to households that don’t have access to it. Rubio, meanwhile, wants to phase out employer-paid premiums altogether and replace them with a universal tax credit that all Americans could access, whether they had the option for employer coverage or not.

There are pros and cons to every proposal, and GOP candidates have yet “to coalesce around a single plan,” said Elise Viebeck, contributor to The Washington Post.

Which ACA replacement plan is best?

Viebeck rated some of the most notable plans (from sources other than Presidential candidates) with prognoses ranging from good to poor. Here’s a summary:

  • Ron Johnson’s plan: good. Repeal ACA mandates, but extend subsidies to those using federal exchanges during a transition period.
  • Ben Sasse’s plan: fair. Repeal subsidies; replace them with tax credits during a transition period. This plan would kill the employer mandate and expand the pool of individuals who are exempt from the personal mandate.
  • House Republican leadership plan: fair. Repeal mandates, extend subsidies during a transition period, then offer states a choice between subsidy or block grant.
  • Tom Price’s plan: fair. Scale back ACA regulations while implementing a new system of age-based tax credits.
  • Republican Study Committee plan: poor. Repeal Obamacare, introduce a standard health insurance deduction, establish high-risk pools and allow insurance to be sold across state lines.

How will Obamacare affect the election?

Depending on who makes it to the White House in 2016, the American health care system could be in for some big changes: The election will clearly bear an impact on healthcare.

The opposite is also true: Health care will bear an impact on the election. A survey by showed that the ACA will help shape the vote of 85 percent of Americans, Yahoo! News said. As for public opinion on whether to keep Obamacare or throw it out, it’s pretty well split, with 45 percent saying keep it, 44 percent favoring repeal.

No matter what the future holds, BeaconPath remains your group health plan cost-control partner. Subscribe to our blog to receive the latest updates, and stay in the loop as the changes unfold. Also, stay tuned for our next post which will cover the Democratic candidates’ thoughts on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

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