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March 23 2016

Un-happy Sixth Birthday for ObamaCare!

Patrice J. Lee

ObamaCare turns six years old this week and to celebrate President Obama and the White House are out and about touting the law’s broad reach, while ignoring the real pain Americans with and without it continue to endure.

President Obama boasts of his legacy this week:

After nearly a century of effort, and thanks to the thousands of people who fought so hard to pass and implement this law, we have at last succeeded in leaving our kids and grandkids a country where pre-existing conditions exclusions are a thing of the past, affordable options are within our reach, and health care is no longer a privilege, but a right,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday, one day ahead of the anniversary of the law’s signing. 

Affordable options? Within our reach? Perhaps he’s forgotten that premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs have spiked across the country for Americans precisely because of ObamaCare. And what about delivering value to customers?

During the debate over ObamaCare, President Obama promised –among many things- that the average family premiums would decline by $2,500. Let’s just see if that held up.

According to the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans in most states face higher healthcare premiums this year under ObamaCare. In 17 of those states, the deductible increases are 20 percent or higher.

As for deductibles, those too have spiked. Forty-one states saw average deductibles for ObamaCare plans increase and 17 of them experienced double-digit increases. That’s a whopping $3,000 or more for consumers in some states. Here are the largest increases: Mississippi (39 percent), Washington (31 percent), South Carolina (26 percent), Louisiana (24 percent), Florida (23 percent), Minnesota and Vermont (22 percent), Arizona (21 percent), and North Carolina (20 percent).

For any hard-working American with a tight family budget who hasn’t seen wages rise during this economic recovery, such cost increases can easily bust your budget. Heritage expert Drew Gonshorowski explains why:

The main reason many insurers are raising premiums this year is because they are experiencing higher than expected costs.

This update implies that the people currently signed up in the plans are less healthy than what was anticipated by the company when calculating what to charge for premiums last year.

This also shows, as pointed out by senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center Brian Blase, that the mandate may not be having the expected effect on enrollment. Additionally, some plans are utilizing a narrow network model, which is less flexible on doctors and providers, to keep premium increases low.

This behavior in the markets is not some glitch or temporary effect. Heavily regulating insurance plans in these markets has led to large increases in premiums. There are several examples, but three factors contribute greatly to increasing premiums.

The Affordable Care Act restricts age-specific pricing to a ratio of 3 to 1…

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover a set of “essential health benefits,” as well as a list of “preventive services” for which plans are prohibited from charging enrollees any copayments.

… Finally, the Affordable Care Act’s minimum actuarial requirement establishes a floor for what plans must pay toward the cost of covered services. The law standardizes this into metal tiers. Plans under 60 percent no longer exist.

The gift that ObamaCare gives is higher costs and more headaches, not the relief of lower healthcare costs for millions of Americans that President Obama touted over six years ago.

Some 20 million people have gained healthcare coverage in large part because Medicare was expanded. But many Americans still don’t view ObamaCare favorably. One out of four Americas said recently that ObamaCare directly harms them. The reasons: health care remains unaffordable, they have an inability to find a doctor, higher monthly premiums, higher out of pocket costs, and the loss of their healthcare coverage.

Six years later, President Obama and the Administration would rather tell a happy-ever-after story about ObamaCare than face reality.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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