Donald Trump’s election coup has implications for all sectors of the economy, from energy and infrastructure to tech. Perhaps no industry may be more vulnerable in the next four years than healthcare. Throughout the campaign, President Trump was vocal about his move within the first 100 days of office to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Within hours of his inauguration as President, he demonstrated his commitment to this pledge with signing his first executive order that instructs federal agencies to “minimize the burden” of the ACA.
We knew this was in the cards.
We can’t be sure whether Congress will scrap the ACA; however, the likelihood that severe changes will be made to healthcare in the United States is high. If Americans are kicked off-of their health insurance plans, then more than ever before, the time to take ownership of our personal health and wellness is now. While the outlook of healthcare in the United States has never been great, the next four years will see tremendous opportunity among the health and fitness industry. What makes me so sure? Let’s first explore what the ramifications to healthcare if President Trump and Congress succeed in “repealing and replacing” the ACA:
At a Glance…
- Leave 20 million people without health insurance.
- Likely eliminate provisions for those with “pre-existing conditions” in obtaining affordable health insurance and replace with “consistent coverage exclusion” – whereby anyone with a pre-existing condition who undergoes a 63-day or more gap in coverage may be discriminated against. As we know, chronic conditions in the workforce are aggravated by poor lifestyle choices, boosting absenteeism and reduced productivity - the very reason why a healthy diet and lifestyle, as promoted by employer-sponsored wellness programs, are beneficial within the workplace.
- Eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) which provides a permanent annual appropriation to support prevention, wellness, and other public health-related programs and activities.
Potential Policy Changes Beyond an ACA Repeal that May Impact Health in America
Reducing the obesity epidemic was a high priority for the Obama administration. Particularly, first lady Michelle Obama championed kids’ health and wellness, assisting President Obama in setting up a Task Force on Childhood Obesity. This effort overhauled nutrition requirements in school lunches, passed more strict requirements for calories to be labeled on menus, made a move to ban trans-fat from foods, and promoted the need for physical fitness among children.
President Trump’s views specific to nutrition policy remain unclear, however he has explicitly said that he will rollback business regulations that he deems harmful to the economy. We can’t be sure whether the Trump Administration will prioritize kids’ health and nutrition in their policy. Will first lady Melania Trump continue Michelle Obama’s crusade to fight obesity? She hasn’t said either way, however she has suggested her imperative as first lady will be to combat cyber-bullying.
A glance at who President Trump surrounds himself could reveal even more: soda and fast-food industry executives abound, with PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi functioning as his business council and his recently withdrawn nominee Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Holdings, a parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, nominated for labor secretary.
Regardless of your political affiliation, entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry should be keenly aware of the massive changes underway.
Wellness Programs Are Positioned to Gain Traction…
With Americans potentially losing their coverage through their employer, we will see an even greater need for technology and services that build on preventative care, and here's why:
- The majority of healthcare costs are preventable, employers who continue to provide health insurance will hope to minimize the cost incurred, offering wellness programs to prevent chronic disease and control costs.
- Health insurance functions as a stopgap, unlike wellness programs that combine nutrition, physical activity, and education to improve health before chronic illness sets in.
- Employees who have access to wellness programs experience improved productivity. Employers who seek an edge over their competition will continue to provide effective wellness programs to their workforce.
- Wellness programs may nip preventable health conditions in the bud by identifying health risks and promoting health through lifestyle changes such as improved eating habits, increased physical activity and stress management.
We predict employers will continue to preserve and protect employee health. Incorporating wellness programs, whether as a continued piece of the ACA or a wellness program sought through a local gym facility, will continue to gain traction over the next four years and beyond.