Health Care Act

Burr health plan v. Obamacare: Study shows winners and losers

The Patient CARE Act introduced by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina would bring lower health insurance premiums and a smaller budget deficit than the Affordable Care Act, a new analysis concludes.

But there are trade-offs to the GOP “repeal and replace” plan, including higher deductibles and fewer people with health insurance. That’s the conclusion of the Center for Health and Economy, which ran the numbers on the act introduced by Burr, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Fred Upton.

The center, which is about a year old, is the creation of Republican policy analyst and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin. According to the Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery, the center “has assembled an impressive board of academics” and strives for nonpartisanship, but has its roots in GOP activism.

Among the center’s projections:

▪ Premiums would go down across the board, especially for people willing to save by taking a risk on lower-payoff bronze and catastrophic plans. By 2025, the center projects premiums for those plans would be 17 percent lower for a single person than they would under the ACA, or “Obamacare.”

Patient CARE would end the ACA’s guarantee of coverage for “essential benefits” such as maternity care and mental health, allowing people to choose lower-cost plans. However, the report also notes that abolition of the individual mandate might also lead to healthy, low-risk people dropping insurance altogether, which could push premiums up.

▪ The GOP plan eliminates the ACA cap on out-of-pocket costs, which means more people would face higher bills if they’re hit with an unexpected medical crisis.

▪ By 2025, the ACA would insure 4 million more people than Patient CARE. That’s primarily because of Medicaid expansion, which the Carolinas and more than 30 other states have rejected, the report says. The GOP plan would also lead to a slight decrease in the number of people with employer-sponsored coverage, either by choice or because companies drop coverage, the center concludes.

▪ Overall access to doctors and hospitals would be higher under the GOP plan, but that’s mostly because of the expected shift to catastrophic coverage, which allows wide access because patients are paying most costs themselves.

▪ Patient CARE will bring in less revenue and spend less than the ACA, leading to a decrease in the budget deficit of $534 billion over the next decade.

Helms: 704-358-5033;

Twitter: @anndosshelms. This blog is done in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.