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November 10, 2023

Why Is ObamaCare Still So Terrible?

Bloated government plays a huge role, of course, but so does the increasing girth of Americans.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Health insurance premiums are rising rapidly.

Thanks to Bidenomics, of course, prices for pretty much everything are rising rapidly. (The economic geniuses over at Vox tell us “The problem isn’t inflation. It’s prices.”)

Headline inflation is up 3.7% year over year and rising again after gradually easing from a painful high of 9.1%. Even that, however, masks reality: Since Joe Biden took office, his policies have yielded a cumulative inflation rate of more than 17%. And the year-over-year numbers are worse for something federal law since 2010 mandates that everyone purchase — health insurance.

“Average annual health insurance premiums in 2023 are $8,435 for single coverage and $23,968 for family coverage,” reports the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). “These average premiums each increased 7% in 2023. The average family premium has increased 22% since 2018 and 47% since 2013.” And if you’re wondering, “Over the last ten years, the growth in the average premium for family coverage far outpaced inflation (47% vs. 30%).”

We in our humble shop can attest to higher increases than that, sometimes reaching 30% in a single year for high-deductible HSA plans. We’re paying a lot more for less insurance as a result of ObamaCare.

And we’re hardly alone. “More than half of working-age Americans said they’ve struggled to afford care this year,” Axios reported last month. Skyrocketing insurance premiums and big medical bills are “forcing them to forgo or delay needed care.” More from Axios paints a bleak picture:

Almost 40% of adults reported skipping or putting off health care in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. Of this group, 57% said their health worsened as a result.

About 3 in 10 adults said health care costs made it harder to pay for food and utilities, regardless of their coverage status.

That’s not exactly what Barack Obama promised when he was hawking the — ahem — Affordable Care Act. In fact, he promised that premiums would get significantly cheaper.

Tellingly, Obama’s oft-repeated promise that “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” was named PolitifFact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2013, the year ObamaCare went into effect and killed a bunch of health insurance plans. When you mandate that everyone buy a product, it’s going to be harder, if not impossible, to deliver that same product for a decent price — just as ObamaCare opponents had been warning all along.

That isn’t to say insurance companies or healthcare providers are innocent victims here. Indeed, the greatest irony of ObamaCare might be that Democrats “hated” Big Health so much that, according to researchers John Goodman and Beverly Gossage: “ObamaCare has been pouring about $60 billion a year in new money into the healthcare system. All that spending is lining the pockets of insurance companies, hospitals and some doctors — although it doesn’t appear that there has been any overall increase in the amount of healthcare being delivered.”

Meanwhile, Democrats and Joe Biden have added expensive subsidies and regulations on top of ObamaCare, realizing exactly the kind of bloated growth we also warned about more than a decade ago. “Federal subsidies for insurance premiums amount to $91 billion this year,” notes Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute.

Another early warning that’s come to fruition: Republicans would never repeal a new major entitlement. Even with unified control in Washington from 2017 to 2019, Republicans couldn’t muster the votes or willpower to save the country from this awful law. They’re not even pretending to try anymore, either.

Just this week, The Wall Street Journal featured a news article titled “Why Republicans Abandoned Their Fight to Repeal Obamacare.” The story explains the headline — virtually no Republican is even talking about repealing the law anymore. Perhaps that’s because of a KFF poll cited by the Journal: “Initially unpopular after its passage in 2010, the health law is now viewed favorably by some 60% of Americans.” That is mind-numbing given the cost increases we’ve highlighted, to say nothing of the constitutional problems that even the Supreme Court got wrong, but that’s an ill-informed electorate and Big Government for you.

Finally, a note of warning and, we hope, encouragement to all of us. Americans are going to pay more for insurance because we’re less healthy than we used to be. According to CDC date reported a couple of months ago, 22 states in 2022 had at least 35% of adults who were obese. When ObamaCare went into effect 10 years ago, that wasn’t true of any state. Heavier people are going to suffer more from health problems like heart disease and diabetes, which in turn will make insuring people more expensive.

The good news is that there’s something all of us can do about that.

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