March 24 2013
Three Years Into The Relationship, Obamacare Starts Breaking Promises
Maybe White House ObamaCare Three-Year-Anniversary celebrations are another casualty of the Sequester, like White House tours. But then again, maybe not. The White House might instead realize that when it comes to ObamaCare, Americans really aren’t in the mood to celebrate. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as ObamaCare—was sold to Americans as the solution to the problems plaguing our nation’s healthcare system. Uninsured Americans were to gain coverage through an expansion of Medicaid, mandates on insurance providers that they offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and rules requiring employers to offer health insurance to their employees.
Costs were supposed to come down, and they would thanks to an individual mandate that would force healthy people into the insurance pool. New, aggressive government oversight of how insurance companies operate would also bring down costs and rid the system of waste. And all of this wasn’t supposed to add a dime to the national debt.
Those were the promises that led to the law’s passage. Opponents warned at the time that this one-size-fits-all approach disregarded the various health needs of a diverse American population, and ignore how rational people and states will react to new choices in front of them.
And now as ObamaCare’s many provisions are actually kicking in, Americans are seeing how the law fails to live up to its promises.
For starters, many prudent cash-strapped states aren’t participating in the Medicaid expansion. These states wisely know that existing Medicaid patients already face a tremendous difficulty in getting timely, quality health care, and expanding the costly, broken government insurance program won’t provide anyone with better care. Bigger Medicaid won’t be a quick-fix for the uninsured.
Individuals are expected to make a similar calculation: The penalty for defying the individual mandate and not carrying insurance is far lower than the premium costs. Moreover, new regulations require insurance companies to offer them coverage even after they get sick. Translated, many young Americans will have a financial incentive to not get coverage.
As a result, ObamaCare won’t get anywhere close to the universal insurance coverage the law promised. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that even after full implementation, ObamaCare will leave 30 million people without insurance in the United States.
ObamaCare’s promise of deficit neutrality always relied on budget gimmicks, phantom cuts to Medicare, and trillions in new taxes. It’s no surprise this was another broken promise. This year, the Government Accountability Office reported that ObamaCare will add $6.2 trillion to our long-term deficits. Like Medicare and Social Security, ObamaCare is another entitlement that we will never stop paying for.
In terms of personal costs, ObamaCare again misses the mark. President Obama promised a reduction of the average family premium by $2,500. The reality of the past two years is this: In 2010, the Kaiser Health Foundation reported the average family’s premium to be $13,770. In 2012, the number went to $15,745 – a nearly $2,000 increase.
And sadly, the cost trend shows no sign of changing. The “Affordable Care Act” failed to address the root of our cost problem—a gluttonous, over-regulated third-party system—and instead will seek to address high premiums in the coming years through subsidies and tax credits. The problem with this approach is that it is simply a redistribution of the cost, not a reduction.
And what about that promise that if you like your current insurance coverage you can keep it? And that this health care law would create new jobs? You’ve seen the reports: Millions of Americans can expect their employers to sunset their current health insurance coverage thanks to ObamaCare’s nosebleed costs; and worse, employers are resorting to cutting workers and workers’ hours to avoid having to provide them with prohibitively expensive insurance coverage.
Even the most ardent opponents of ObamaCare would be happy to see it succeed. Everyone wants better health care options and lower costs for all Americans. But whatever the law’s intentions, it has resulted in only broken promises. After three years, there is still no real “patient protection” or “affordable care” in this Act, and there simply isn’t much to celebrate.