Jeb Bush’s healthcare plan: Six takeaways

October 22, 2015

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush unveiled his healthcare plan; one expert offers his ideas about it.

Former Florida governor and 2016 Presidential Republican candidate Jeb Bush recently announced his plan for reforming the healthcare system.

The plan, which has been called the “Republican answer to Obamacare,” is looking to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Related:Republican debate: 5 key take-aways for healthcare executives

The main components of Bush’s plan include:

  • Increase funding for the National Institutes of Health

  • Promote private sector leadership of health information technology adoption

  • Release patient de-identified Medicare and Medicaid data

  • Establish a review of regulatory barriers to innovation

  • Increase contribution limits and uses for Health Savings Accounts

  • Allow employers to give financial incentives to employees who make healthy lifestyle choices

  • Allow small businesses to make tax-free contributions to individual health plans

  • Cap the employer tax exclusion, replacing the Cadillac tax in Obamacare

  • Restore state regulation of competitive insurance markets

  • Create accountability for better care and outcomes for low-income and the vulnerable

Shirvani-Mahdavi, PhDAli Shirvani-Mahdavi, PhD, executive vice president at Novu, a consumer engagement and rewards platform based in Minneapolis, offers his six takes on Bush's plan:

1. Creates more loopholes for individuals to not get coverage.

“The individual mandate will no longer be in place, which means many of the 17 million people who obtained health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act [ACA] may find themselves reverting to being uninsured,” Shirvani-Mahdavi says.

2. Insurance standards would be weakened.

“One of the strengths of the ACA is that it sets standards for what insurance must cover, which is why premiums under the ACA are higher than the basic plan premiums available before the ACA went into effect,” he says. ‘[Bush] would like to make very basic, comprehensive coverage available, which would eliminate the standards set by the ACA.”

3. Employers will no longer be required to provide health insurance to employees in the same way.

That means fewer people will be covered by their employer, according to Shirvani-Mahdavi. “While these people may be able to access tax credits that would help them buy insurance on the individual market, they may be less likely to do so,” he says.

4. Lower-income individuals may be only able to afford catastrophic coverage plans, leaving them unable to afford basic preventive care or other necessary services such as mental health services and physical therapy.

5. Medicaid would be handed over to state control and caps on spending would be put in place.

“In order to reduce costs, Medicaid would likely need to cover fewer people and fewer services, overall reducing access to healthcare for lower-income individuals,” he says.

6. Overall, this plan would cut costs, but only because it would result in reduced coverage for individuals, especially lower-income individuals, according to Shirvani-Mahdavi.