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Opinion | Healthcare costs for families to “skyrocket”

A critical program that ensures working families don’t go broke trying to stay healthy is set to expire this fall.


Healthcare costs are about to skyrocket for families across Alabama unless Congress acts soon. That’s because a critical program that ensures working families don’t go broke trying to stay healthy is set to expire this fall. This program can be saved, but only if we act quickly. That’s why I’m calling on our Congresswoman Terri Sewell, to once again step up and ensure Alabama families don’t have to pay more for basic health coverage.

Here’s what’s at stake: At the beginning of this year, Congress passed a law that ensured health coverage would stay affordable for working people. Individuals and families most at risk of losing access to healthcare used new subsidies to help pay for health insurance on the federal marketplace.

These subsidies lowered the cost of coverage for families struggling to afford the basics in life. More than 40,000 uninsured Alabamians have access to relief because of the legislation passed this year. If these healthcare subsidies are allowed to lapse—and these uninsured members of our communities lose access to marketplace relief—the costs for these families will go deep.

This will hit families of all backgrounds. HHS found that letting these subsidies lapse could raise premiums by up to $600 a year. For some families, the costs could be even higher. A new analysis estimates premium payments could double for millions of Americans.

Congress is currently debating the next federal budget, including various policies to improve healthcare.  Ensuring these subsidies are made permanent should be the highest priority. It is the most straightforward way to expand coverage for millions of working Americans.

For me, expanding access to affordable and reliable healthcare has been part of my life’s work. I’m part of a fast-growing health screening and testing business in Mobile named Synergy Laboratories. Our company is part of the thriving medical and research economy that is fueling growth right here in South Alabama.

We’ve seen how healthcare is not only important for the lives and wellbeing of our families, but it’s a key driver of our regional economy. When workers are healthy, they don’t miss out on work. Families don’t have to stay home to care for sick children. And older Alabamians can enjoy the benefits of retirement without worry.

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The last year and a half has been difficult for so many. But if it has taught us anything, it’s that to continue to have prosperous families, businesses, and communities, protecting access to quality healthcare is more important than ever.

More than 15,000 Alabamians have died because of COVID-19. More people in our community have died this year than in all of 2020. On top of that, in just the last week around 4,000 people across our state have tested positive for coronavirus, a number that surely underestimates the total extent of the virus’ spread throughout our state.

Each one of these cases — not to mention the staggering number of tragic deaths — represents an Alabama family and community that will be forever changed. The last thing anyone should be forced to do in this situation is to pay more for their healthcare, yet that’s the future they could soon face if Congress doesn’t act swiftly.

Congresswoman Sewell has always made it her mission to expand access to quality healthcare, especially in the South. She did Alabama proud by getting these lifesaving health care subsidies passed into law — now we need her to step up to the plate one more time, push to make this relief permanent, and once again protect healthcare for families across our state.

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