by – Michael R. Fuljenz
“We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year…by the end of my first term as president.” –Democratic candidate Barack Obama in June, 2008
After winning the 2008 election, President Obama lobbied full-time to pass his signature Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Time after time, he promised that he would not sign a bill that “adds one dime to our deficit, now or in the future.” He said the ACA is “fully paid for and will reduce our deficit by $4 trillion” over the next decade. (He also said at one point that companies will be able to reduce their premiums by 3,000%, which is statistically impossible. An end of all premiums would be a 100% cut.) But by 2013, the Society of Actuaries estimated that Obamacare would raise claims costs by an average 32% by 2017
After Obamacare was passed into law, the President campaigned for re-election in 2012 by telling small business owners that “your premiums will go down.” He told owners of small individual plans that “if you like your plan, you can keep your own plan and you can keep your own doctor. Period.” He also said that you will not pay a dime more, and that – if you are charged more – “the government would pay for it.” (That contradicts his own promise, when he said it’s paid for and “will not add a dime to the deficit.”)
These Obamacare claims earned the President “three Pinocchios” (defined as “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”) by the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler.
Other independent analysts agreed. In October of 2014, a comprehensive 50-state (plus the District of Columbia) study by the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and published by a liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution, examined what actually happened to insurance premiums in 2014. They found that 2014 premiums in non-group markets increased 24.4%, compared to what they would have been without Obamacare. Premiums rose in all but six states. Nine states saw gains of 35% or more in non-group markets, including three of our most populous states – Texas, Florida and Georgia.*
Medical insurance rates for non-group markets in my home state of Texas rose by over 40% in 2014, on average. For instance, here’s a real-life example: The husband of one of my staff members was paying $142 per month to a major Texas insurance carrier for a satisfactory individual non-group medical plan, including dental coverage. However, he was informed that this plan would no longer be available as of December 31, 2014. He was advised to find a new plan before mid-November, but the best comparable plan the same carrier could offer cost $300.90 per month without dental. Adding an extra $25 per month for dental, he would pay $325.90 or $3,911 per year for a working couple with three children.
Bottom line, this man could be forced to pay $2207 more ($3911 per year vs. $1704 per year previously) for fewer benefits. For instance, the co-pay cost of an office visit was $25 under his old plan and $30 under the new plan. What’s more, these office visits were unlimited under the old plan and are now rationed to ONE VISIT PER YEAR at the $30 co-pay. The second visit would cost $60 and all subsequent visits cost 80% of the clinic’s fee. His prescription drug benefits would be much worse, too.
The President repeatedly promised that the Affordable Care Act would reduce insurance premiums by $2,500 for a typical family. Instead, premiums have increased by over $2,200 for this Texas family for a comparable plan with the same major carrier. The President did not explain that, depending on whether you were in a large group, small group or no group (individual plan), how you could be negatively impacted by Obamacare. The president sold the plan’s benefits while ignoring all the drawbacks.
How can the president continue to tell this hard-working couple that they’ll pay less for better care when they would pay 130% more for inferior care? This couple, and millions like them, are very disappointed in the President. Let’s hope that the new Congress can find a way to either improve or repeal Obamacare.