With 2017 well underway, Republicans in Congress have started the process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” Republicans have been demonized for supporting the repeal of “Obamacare,” but many among the dissenters are forgetting, or choosing to ignore, the numerous problems “Obamacare” created. Before vilifying those trying to come up with a solution, we need to first consider the problem that has been inherited.

When “Obamacare” was passed, it included a mandate requiring Americans to purchase insurance even if they didn’t want to. Americans were promised they would be able to keep their doctor and their premiums would remain affordable. Unfortunately, these promises were not kept as time progressed. The insurance mandate alone caused many problems.

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Mandating citizens to purchase insurance that may not work for their families displays just how out of touch much of Washington is with Americans. Bureaucrats in Washington are simply not able to create plans that meet the needs of all of the families they are expected to cover. American citizens have individual needs, and there is no “one-size fits all” plan that can work for everyone. We need to implement a system that’s designed to meet the needs of all Americans by letting them choose the best plan for themselves.

A major failure of “Obamacare” was the promise Americans would still have a choice of their health care plan under the mandate. Unfortunately, these claims have proved to be untrue over “Obamacare’s” tenure. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately a third of counties within the U.S. only have one choice of insurance plan under the mandate.

Unfortunately, this means residents of these counties are forced to buy an insurance plan that may or may not fit their needs. We cannot expect one insurer to meet the needs of all Americans. A core principle of American culture is having the opportunity to choose what works best for you — a principle “Obamacare” strips away.

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Furthermore, health care costs under “Obamacare” are soaring. Overall, premiums nationwide increased by about 22 percent in 2017. Some states are suffering far more than others — in Arizona, premiums increased by 116 percent. (Not-so-fun fact: Every single county in Arizona has only one choice of insurer.)

With few choices, Americans are forced to purchase insurance they are not able to afford and may not even meet their needs. While these statistics are staggering on their own, this CNN article adds another perspective to what it means for those forced to purchase these plans. A woman named Ginger describes no longer being able to afford “Obamacare” premiums and opting out of health care entirely, explaining, “We’re not going to quit eating to pay insurance.” Ginger’s family decided they would rather remain uninsured, than be insured under “Obamacare.”

Another woman, Clarissa, describes when she got married, her “Obamacare” premiums jumped to over $600. She could no longer afford to be insured. She is now pregnant and has chosen to remain uninsured, so she doesn’t have to pay premiums she can’t afford.

It is important to remember these instances are not as isolated as we may hope. With premiums rising by 20 percent on average, more and more families are no longer going to be able to afford to remain insured.

While “Obamacare” had every intention to make health care more accessible for everyday Americans, even the best of intentions can lead to dire consequences. “Obamacare” has forced citizens to buy health care with soaring prices while providing them with minimum choice in their insurance plan.

It is likely many changes are still going to be made to the GOP’s proposed American Health Care Act, which was not perfect the first time. But I am hopeful the final plan will work better for Americans as a whole. As difficult as it will be to implement a new system of health care, it is extremely important we do better than we currently are doing.

Americans deserve better health care than the broken system of “Obamacare.” Let’s continue to look for solutions that give Americans the quality health care they need at a price they can afford.

Alesha Guenther ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science. She is the freshmen representative on the College Republicans Executive Board.