By John Merline
Ten years ago this month, when President Obama Barack was signing Obamacare into law, Vice President Joe Biden said to him in a stage whisper “This is a big f***ing deal.” A decade later, Obamacare has turned out to be a big f***ing failure. And Biden is now promising to expand it.
Remember “you can keep your plan”? Or “family premiums will go down by $2,500”? How about the claim that Obamacare would cut the number of uninsured in half? That it would dramatically reduce the federal deficit? And that it would make the health care industry more efficient?
None of it came true. The very name of the law – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – was an exercise in false advertising.
Affordable? Premiums in the individual market doubled in Obamacare’s first four years. The result was that millions of middle-class families found themselves priced out of the insurance market altogether. Patient protection? Those who could afford the premiums faced enormous deductibles for HMO-style plans that strictly limited which doctors they could see and hospitals they could use – unless they wanted to pay the entire costs out of pocket.
Those who get insurance through work didn’t see any savings, either. Where Obama promised that families would see premiums drop by $2,500, they went up faster in the five years after Obamacare than in the five years before. (Premiums for employer-provided family coverage climbed 27% from 2010 to 2015, compared with 26% from 2005 to 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
Overhead costs now claim a bigger share of national health spending than they did before Obamacare – going from 6.7% in 2010 to 8.4% in 2018, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The electronic health records that Obama mandated have made health care less efficient, caused new types of medical errors, and have produced waves of doctor burnout.
Here’s another way to gauge the failure of Obamacare:
Back in March 2010, the Congressional Budget Office – which is supposed to be nonpartisan but in fact employs liberal economic models in everything it does – predicted what health care would look like in the first 10 years of Obamacare.
The CBO claimed there would be 24 million people getting insurance through the Obamacare exchanges by now. The actual number: 9 million.
It predicted that 51 million would be on Medicaid after Obamacare expanded eligibility – and that was assuming that every state adopted the expansion plan. Today, there are 69 million on Medicaid. That’s 35% more than the CBO projected, even though more than a dozen states refused to expand the program.
The CBO said that the number of uninsured would have dropped to 23 million, representing just 8% of the population. This year, 32 million people – or 11% of the population lack insurance.
Meanwhile, Obamacare’s subsidy costs are far higher than promised. Instead of an average of $6,000 for those getting Obamacare subsidies in the exchanges, the actual number tops $7,700.
And remember all those promises that Obamacare would produce some deficit reduction in the first 10 years and $1 trillion over the second decade? Didn’t happen.
The CBO concluded that repealing Obamacare would save $338 billion over the next decade.
None of Obamacare’s failings can be blamed on Republican attempts to sabotage the law. Double-digit premiums were the norm long before President Donald Trump entered the White House. Most of the heavily subsidized non-profit “co-op” plans – which were supposed to keep premiums in check – had already failed. The Republicans’ repeal of the individual mandate had no impact on enrollment. Nor did expanding “short-term” insurance plans that bypass Obamacare’s massive and costly regulatory regime. What’s more, Obamacare premiums have been flat over the past two years.
So what is the Democrats’ answer to Obamacare’s litany of lies and false promises? What is their response to the fact that more government intervention in the health care system produced higher costs, more hassles and no noticeable improvement in the quality of health care?
Joe Biden wants to build on Obamacare by expanding its subsidies and introducing a private-insurance-killing “public option.” He even repeated Obama’s “keep your plan” lie. Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to socialize the health care industry outright.
For Democrats, the answer to government failure is always more government.