Great news: High deductibles are now the "new normal" in health insurance

NPR brings us this new surprise from the annals of top-down control of economies. When Democrats shoved ObamaCare through Congress in 2010, they promised that it would “bend the cost curve downward” throughout the whole health-care sector, especially in insurance. Instead, costs have skyrocketed so quickly that insurers have to raise deductibles in order to keep premiums from going up so high that no one could afford them.


That’s not just true in the ObamaCare markets, either, but in employer-based insurance too:

Just over half of employees this year have a health insurance policy with a deductible of at least $1,000, according to a survey of employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s the continuation of a multiyear trend of companies passing more of the costs of employee health care back onto workers.

Overall, health insurance premiums for a family covered by an employer health plan rose an average 3 percent this year to $18,142. Of that, employees pay an average of $5,277.

At first the White House bragged about premium increases remaining low, but that turned out to be fallout from the Great Recession. Premiums have gone up 20% since 2011 overall, and are going up much faster than that in the ObamaCare exchanges, even with deductibles running around $5000 for basic plans. Deductibles at that level all but guarantee that consumers will never see any benefit from their plans except an annual wellness check, which would cost a few hundred dollars at most.

NPR has pointed out in the past that the high deductibles along with expensive premiums put lower-income families at particular risk — the very people that Obama and Democrats said their command-economy system would benefit:


Radley and her husband, also a mover, were getting by on his paycheck and her disability payments, which together brought in about $30,000 a year.

But, two years ago, they were hit with a double whammy. His company changed to a health insurance plan that required the couple to pay higher premiums — about $700 a month — higher copays and a $5,000 deductible.

Then her husband needed emergency surgery and missed a few months of work. …

Still they ended up in bankruptcy early last year. They were able to write off their old medical debt, but the health problems didn’t go away. Barbara’s costs are constant and her husband had another surgery last fall. In the past 12 months they’ve racked up an additional $10,000 in unpaid medical bills.

As has been pointed out endlessly ever since ObamaCare passed, the system has created the worst of both worlds: catastrophic-care insurance at comprehensive-insurance prices. That problem has begun seeping into the much larger employer-based insurance market, despite Obama’s promise that government price controls would lower cost so much that families of four would pay $2500 less a year in premiums. At the same time, the employer mandate is increasing costs for compensation, which leaves less and less for employee salaries.


That’s not the only worst-of-both-worlds aspect, either. Price transparency would be the key to real market reform and cost control, but that only works when third-party payers are entirely out of the way on routine care. Instead, the ACA imposes an avalanche of mandates that bury both consumers and providers, which means the former gets more price transparency only after paying a fortune for premiums that offer no coverage on normal utilization.

In short, the disaster of ObamaCare continues to metastasize, while Democrats insist that the patient isn’t sick at all.

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