US voters get left with the bill as insurers pull out of markets

Global Business

U.S. President Trump has vowed to repeal and replace so-called ‘Obamacare.’ Now, its a pain for voters in one U.S. city that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

They may soon lack access to health insurance.

CGTN’s Phil Lavelle more from Carson City, Nevada.

Becky Melendez is worried sick about friends and loved ones getting sick.

“If you get anything that’s life threatening, you’re going to die,” she said.

She blames major healthcare providers who are pulling out of Carson City in Nevada, saying that people have no options when there’s no-one to get health insurance from.

Becky just qualified for federal health insurance because she turned 65. She’s OK – but friends and family could be exposed in a big way.

“It is mandatory, the way the law is written that you have to have healthcare, or you’re penalized,” she said. “And so, if there’s no-one to get healthcare from, what are you gonna do.”

Talking healthcare can be like talking another language. It’s complex, even many Americans don’t understand it.

Health insurance expert Adam Beach said there’s a variety of channel that provide options.

“If you’re lucky enough to be offered it through your company, then you get it through your work,” said Beach. “If you’re buying it as an independent contractor or on the marketplace, then you can either go directly to an insurance company or buy it through a state exchange, which is a discounted program, or you can go through the state if you qualify at a lower income level.”

It’s that last bit, known as the the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare that’s at the heart of the issue here in Carson City.

California State University of Northridge political science professor Tom Hogenesch said republicans see the Affordable Care Act as an expansion of national government authority and want it repealed.

“Democrats see the Affordable Care Act as a smashing success and so there’s no consensus here. There’s also inter-party divisions within the Republican Party that are preventing Trump from getting what he wants.”

Meanwhile, healthcare providers are getting nervous. Some are leaving entire areas meaning limited options in places like Carson City which finds itself in a bit of a quandary here. It’s the capital of Nevada, which is a swing state and went to the Democrats last year. But Carson City itself voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. And now some of those who voted him in – find themselves in a potentially precarious healthcare situation.

Local Trump supporters say they would vote for him again. And they are eager to point out the healthcare dilemma is not his fault.

“A president can only do what he can do within his power,” said PJ Degross.

“He’s still the right man for the job,” said Degross. “This will get straightened out. This will get straightened out. Healthcare will get resolved. Because of this fact: healthcare will implode. I believe that this Obamacare was never meant to be a sustainable insurance plan.”

Dozens of counties could be without an insurer offering individual coverage in just a couple of months. That’s the worst case scenario. Best case is there’ll be a limited number of smaller providers. Which means people may end up paying more. It’s a political issue affecting millions of Americans, whether they like it or not.

Scott W. Atlas examines the US health care system

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo examines the state of the U.S. health care system with expert Scott W. Atlas.