As the Trump White House and Republican Congress start to flesh out their replacement plans for the Affordable Care Act, be prepared to hear a lot about "Obamacare orphans." These orphans have the potential to be one of the most lethal political time bombs in American history.
Most people will think of "Obamacare orphans" as the millions of people who got health coverage because of the ACA and will lose it thanks to the expected repeal of the law by Congress as well as major insurers like Humana pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges.
It looks like there could be a lot of them. Even if no one can agree on the exact number of people who have health insurance now because of Obamacare (estimates range from about 13 million to 22 million Americans) we're still talking about a lot of people. And you don't have to be a supporter of the ACA to admit a troublesome avalanche of Obamacare orphans is a real possibility.
Even President Donald Trump and top members of his team have addressed this fear by assuring the public a few times that no one will lose coverage under the Obamacare replacement plans his team and the GOP Congress are considering.
But even before Obamacare's presumed death, the U.S. is dealing with millions of de facto orphans because health insurance and health care are two different things. As millions of Americans who signed up for Obamacare plans found out the hard way over the last two years, being "covered" doesn't mean much if you can't afford a $6,000 deductible before your insurance plan really starts covering costs.