Obama: Hey, only a handful of people are seeing premium increases
posted at 5:21 pm on November 3, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama took a break from interfering in FBI investigations today to interfere with reality on ObamaCare. Speaking at a rally in Miami for Hillary Clinton, the president scoffed at Republican promises to repeal ObamaCare, and then insisted that most consumers won’t see premium increases in the exchanges at all. Mediate has the sound bite of that claim, but Obama’s string of nonsense should be read in context for full appreciation of his talents.
Scalp micturation level … peak Lebowski, man:
Can I just say, by the way — I’m going to take another aside. I know I’m running long, but — (applause) — we have given — 20 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before. (Applause.) Twenty million people. The parade of horribles the Republicans have talked about haven’t happened. Death panels — you remember that? Saying this would bankrupt the country. None of what they’ve said has happened. So now, after 60 votes to repeal this thing that haven’t succeeded, now Trump said we got to call a special session to repeal it. And he had a big press conference, and he had a couple of doctors and a nurse, and Ben Carson and some people — (laughter) — no, no — who’s an excellent neurosurgeon. He really is. I don’t know what happened on the political thing, but — (laughter.)
So they come and they spend like an hour — “We’re going to repeal Obamacare.” Okay, and then what you going do? “Well, then we’re going to repeal it and we’re going to give you something great.” Okay, what? “Well, something.” (Laughter.) Because premiums are going up. Well, now, it is true, premiums are going up for a handful of people who don’t get tax credits — that’s important. We’re going to work as hard as we can to do something about it. We would have already done it if Republicans had helped. But keep in mind, their alternative would have been no health insurance; that’s what they had before.
Well, that’s what most of them effectively have now, too. Democrats refused to allow for what used to be known as catastrophic health insurance, which featured low premiums and moderately high deductibles, which were popular among healthy consumers who expected to have low utilization of health-care providers. Instead, Obama and his allies insisted on everyone buying comprehensive insurance costing thousands of dollars each year whether consumers needed it or not. Thanks to the severe market distortions this created, these consumers have the worst of both worlds — high premiums and even higher deductibles, practically guaranteeing that nothing short of a catastrophic event will allow for any benefits to apply.
Then there’s another level of nonsense on premiums. It’s true that the ACA exchanges have nearly 90% of their consumers receiving some form of tax credits, but Democrats projected that to be more like 60%. The reason it’s so high is because healthy adults who don’t qualify for tax credits don’t enroll in insurance plans, driving the utilization curve out of whack — a problem that gets increasingly worse each year. On top of that, the tax credits don’t mean that no one sees the premium increases; it means everyone sees them, as taxpayers are forced to make up the annually escalating difference. Also, thanks to mandates that prevent proper risk assignment and force the use of “community rating,” the entire system acts as a regressive wealth transfer from younger and poorer consumers to older, wealthier, and less healthy consumers. That’s why the former have stayed out of the exchanges.
Guy Benson runs down a few more lies, especially about a lack of alternatives from Republicans. John Breslin at Patient Daily points out that premium increases are real, and they’re spectacular:
Insurance premiums on the individual marketplace have increased by between 60 percent and close to 160 percent since 2014 in the six states that have seen the biggest hikes.
Arizona takes top spot for the percentage increase of an average benchmark silver plan — close to 160 percent.
These figures, compiled by Patient Daily, emerged following the announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that average premiums across the country will rise 25 percent next year.
The average cost for a silver plan on the exchanges has increased just over 157 percent in Arizona, 142 percent in Oklahoma, 117 percent in Alaska, 82 percent in both Alabama and North Carolina, and 60 percent in Illinois.
HHS wants to woo younger and healthier consumers into the exchanges, but why would they? Their incentives to enter have gotten much worse, not better, and even the threat of fines isn’t enough to force them to spend thousands while getting nothing.
As I write in my column at The Fiscal Times, Obama may scoff at GOP promises of repeal, but in fact ObamaCare is getting repealed by its stakeholders:
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, nearly every stakeholder involved has voted with their feet. Consumers, providers, and even the insurers who helped create Obamacare to profit from a government mandate have all begun to flee from it.
Late last week, earnings reports from major health insurers Aetna and UnitedHealth showed a greater-than-expected decline in enrollments from an already disappointing 2016 result. Jed Graham reported at Investors Business Daily that over 113,000 enrollees had stopped paying their premiums in the third quarter, a 6.6 percent drop that left a combined enrollment of 1.6 million consumers. The two companies account for a sixth of all ACA exchange enrollees, and the trend indicates that national Obamacare enrollment has dropped below 10 million – again. …
Even those who do stay within the system have curtailed their utilization of health care. A GFK poll reported by The Free Beacon shows that half of all ACA exchange consumers have skipped doctor visits in order to save cash, and 36 percent did so even when sick. Only a third of those with employer-based insurance have cut back on utilization. So much for Obamacare bringing “health care” to the masses.
Obama can offer up happy words and laugh lines all day long, but ObamaCare is already collapsing. He can blame Republicans, but it was the GOP that warned of these highly predictable outcomes, and Democrats who pretended that they couldn’t happen. And Obama can afford to laugh … because he won’t be around to pick up the pieces.