One of the last arguments supporters of the healthcare law colloquially referred to as Obamacare desperately held onto was that it kept premium increases smaller than they would have been without the law.
Sure, this was a far cry different than President Barack Obama’s continued promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” but it was what they had given the fact that premiums were still increasing.
Now that defense has been shattered, as the Obama administration confirmed double-digit premium rate hikes.
“Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services,” the Associated Press’ Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar wrote. “Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.”
A map of rate hikes in each state can be found here. Arizona will see the biggest spike (a whopping 116 percent), while Oklahoma will see a spike of 69 percent and Tennessee, Minnesota and Alabama will see spikes around 60 percent. The smallest rate change will occur in Massachusetts and Indiana, which each will see premiums decrease by 3 percent. No other states will see a decrease.
This wasn’t the only bad news for Obamacare revealed on Tuesday. About one in five consumers will have to choose a plan from just a single insurer, meaning all that “choice” supporters of the healthcare law talked about has also disappeared.
This is due to insurance providers dropping out of the Obamacare exchanges due to massive losses. Aetna announced it wouldn’t expand into five additional states and may leave some or all of the 15 states its currently in after losing $200 million, UnitedHealth Group is leaving most exchanges after expecting to lose $650 million and Blue Cross Blue Shield said it would leave Minnesota after losing $265 million. Humana is leaving many exchanges as well.
Basically, Obamacare’s critics were exactly right and the law is failing exactly as they said it would.
“Who could have envisioned such problems? Not Obamacare backers. They were endlessly promising that the law would create vibrant, highly competitive markets that would lower the cost of insurance,” Investor’s Business Daily wrote in an editorial in August. “Critics, however, were spot on. They said that, despite the individual mandate, Obamacare wouldn’t attract enough young and healthy people to keep premiums down.”
The biggest blow to Obamacare came from young, healthy people refusing to pay for costly insurance they didn’t need instead of paying a penalty. Also, people waited until they got sick to purchase insurance, since eliminated pre-existing conditions made that a more favorable option then, again, paying for costly insurance they didn’t need.
All of this led to millions losing the health insurance they liked—the exactly opposite of what Obama and Democrats promised (which is why the line was rated the “Lie of the Year” by the notoriously left-wing Politifact).
There are still those desperately trying to defend the law, and others who bought the belief that the government could add benefits and reduce costs hook, line and sinker now bewildered as to how it all could have gone so wrong. Still others claim this massive rate hike is a “one-time correction” for plans having previously been underpriced.
There are really only a couple defenses left. One is that if we repeal the law, those with pre-existing conditions will again be left out in the cold. That’s a legitimate concern that should be addressed in any replacement fix.
The other main argument is that millions who hadn’t previously had health insurance would again be without. That second argument ignores the fact that most of the people who have insurance now only have it because of the individual mandate—something that could have been instituted without all the other provisions that damaged the health care industry.
Then there’s the conspiracy that Obamacare was never meant to work, because it obviously (well, obviously to many) couldn’t, but was only a stepping-stone toward single payer. What would the next step be? A public option, probably, something Obama has been wishy-washy about in public statements. The theory goes that people will be forced to choose the public option because private insurers won’t be able to compete, and then we’ll get single-payer.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has floated the idea of the public option as a fix to Obamacare. After the double-digit rate hikes were announced, Clinton released a statement that seemed poorly worded, as she was talking about keeping Obamacare and reminding people that her opponent, GOP nominee Donald Trump, would repeal it. It’s probably not a good idea to tell people one candidate wants to repeal the law that just caused massive rate hikes across the country, but that’s just my opinion.
I’m actually looking forward to the ways Obamacare supporters twist and defend the latest bad news.