As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are planning for the long-term success of American families. Build Back Better makes essential investments in the areas all Americans need to live healthy lives and improves their capacity to participate in the economy, including lowering costs for prescription drugs, health insurance premiums, hearing care, and home health services. Build Back Better is a critical tool in rebuilding the post-pandemic economy, which is exactly why 17 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences authored an open letter in support of President Biden’s Build Back Better package and urged its passage.
The Five Ways Build Back Better Lowers the Cost of Living
- Checks Big Pharma’s Greed And Cuts Drug Costs. Over the past 20 years, price increases for brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation. Build Back Better stops this predatory practice from Big Pharma by prohibiting drug companies from raising prices faster than the rate of inflation. This cap would apply to all Americans, and is essential to stop arbitrary price increases on life saving medications. Additionally, Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs would be capped at $2,000 per year and insulin co-pays for all Americans with insurance would be capped at $35 each month.
- Cuts Monthly Premiums For Nine Million Americans. Build Back Better would be the most significant expansion of American health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, by reducing health care premiums for more than nine million Americans purchasing their own coverage through the marketplaces. Individuals would save an average of $600 annually on their premiums and for a family of four making $80,000 a year, premiums will drop nearly $250 a month, or nearly $3,000 a year. Not only would these savings have a profound impact on individuals and families alike, the thousands saved would be reinvested in the American economy.
- Closes The Medicaid Gap And Cuts Medical Debt. Build Back Better would allow more than two million Americans currently trapped in the Medicaid coverage gap to access zero dollar premium health coverage. Of those currently in the coverage gap, 62 percent are in the labor force, 30 percent are parents with children at home, more than 25 percent are essential workers, and 15 percent of adults have a disability. Medicaid expansion under the ACA caused a significant reduction in poverty and reduced income inequality across the board by more than 5 percent. In states that have expanded Medicaid, the chance of accruing medical debt is 20 percent lower than non-expansion states and, a 2018 analysis found that Medicaid expansion led to a nearly $6 billion decline in unpaid medical bills and to higher credit scores.
- Gives Health Workers And Families A Boost. For years, American families have been struggling to keep their loved ones at home, while the home health care workers caring for them have barely been able to make ends meet. Build Back Better addresses both issues. Currently older Americans and people with disabilities are often forced to liquidate their assets to afford as little as two years of in-home care. Build Back Better would save families paying out-of-pocket an estimated $5,800 a year for four hours of care per week. The direct care workers, who are disproportionately Black, female, and earning less than $30,000 a year, would receive a long overdue pay increase that would combat the HCBS workforce shortage that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and historically low wages. Not only will Build Back Better put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans and their families, but it will also help to address longstanding gender and racial wealth equity problems.
- Provides A Lifeline To Seniors. Currently, 36 million Medicare beneficiaries either lack hearing coverage or are forced to purchase it on fixed incomes. In 2018, the average out-of-pocket cost for hearing care was $914. These costs create serious financial barriers for the 50 percent of Medicare beneficiaries living on incomes below $29,650 per year. The societal cost associated with age-related hearing loss is nearly $300,000 over the life of each impacted individual, making the hearing provision in Build Back Better not only an essential health benefit, but a significant benefit to the economy as well.