President Barack Obama repeatedly assured Americans that his sweeping health care reform initiative would not adversely affect their medical insurance. As he put it while pitching that proposal in July 2009: “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
But even back then, plenty of people didn’t buy that far-fetched pledge. After all, the president barely managed to push the landmark legislation through both chambers of Congress without a single Republican vote — and 34 House Democrats opposed it.
Now, though, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by the president on March 23, 2010, is no bargain.
A study recently released by the Society of Actuaries confirms what should already have been obvious: Under that law, medical claims costs — the single most powerful factor in the rise of health insurance premiums — are projected to rise by an average of 32 percent on Americans’ individual health insurance policies.
Another grim diagnosis: Last month, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the health reform law will result in 7 million Americans losing their job-based insurance coverage — nearly double the previous estimate.
It seems, as many wary people predicted, that a lot of U.S. employers will find it cheaper to pay the “Obamacare” penalty for not providing job-based insurance than to provide that coverage at the elevated rates triggered, at least in part, by the law.
Another ominous symptom: According to a recent report on healthpocket.com, a private website that provides information on both private and government health-insurance costs, “less than 2 percent of the existing health plans in the individual market today provide all the Essential Health Benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.”
In other words, the Affordable Care Act is already inflicting a major negative impact on private insurance plans — and those consequences will multiply as more of the law’s stipulations go into effect starting early next year.
Americans got an early clue of the bill’s expensive drawbacks over the last few years as the Obama administration granted numerous waivers to businesses, unions and even state and municipal governments.
A more recent warning came a month ago from Subway founder/CEO Fred DeLuca. He said if Obamacare’s mandates on businesses had been in effect, he would not have been able to start that successful chain of sandwich shops when he did so in 1965. He warned that complying with the law stifles hiring, and is now “the biggest concern of our franchisees.”
Mr. DeLuca added that the law’s extra financial burdens on Subway owners “will be passed on to the consumer.”
So you’ll not only pay more for health insurance, you’ll pay more for Subway sandwiches.
The AP story aptly summed up the law’s insurance-price effects this way: “Obama has promised that the new law will bring costs down. That seems a stretch now.”
Keep that presidential “stretch” in mind while pondering whether Gov. Nikki Haley has made the right call by rejecting pleas that South Carolina participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Keep in mind, too, that the ill effects induced by the Affordable Care Act aren’t limited to rising insurance costs.