The health care industry spends enormous sums to persuade Congress to write laws in its favor, over $775 million in 2016 alone. So, when Sen. Mike Lee and other Republicans demand outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act and return to a "free market," they're supporting rampant exploitation by health insurers at our expense.
While a "free market" may appeal to our desire for robust competition and less government control, in reality it's a disaster. Before the ACA, almost 45,000 people died annually because they lacked health insurance. Each year, 500,000 to 600,000 declared medical bankruptcy, although most had insurance. Insurers routinely denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, even when those conditions were insignificant.
After paying premiums for several years, many people had their legitimate claims denied by unscrupulous insurers. The rising cost of premiums and co-pays far outpaced inflation. In 10 years before ACA, the average cost of employer-provided family plans rose from $5,790 to $13,375. The "free market" system was a failure and will be again if the GOP prevails. The only humane and responsible approach is to retain the ACA and make improvements.