Higher health insurance premiums: The ObamaCare debate we didn't have

Let’s go back in time to when President Obama first began to make the case for his health care overhaul. Here’s how he touted his health plan in May 2007, early in his run for office. “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.” On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama continued to sell the law as a way to lower health premiums, promising at least 15 times to reduce health premiums for families by $2500 on average. And as Buzzfeed notes, Obama didn’t stop pointing to lower premiums when he made it into the White House in 2009. In May of that year, he told C-SPAN that if health industry groups commit to savings—“we end up saving $2 trillion…a lot of those savings can go back into the pockets of American consumers in the form of lower premiums. That’s what we are driving for.”

From the very beginning, in other words, Obama’s message was not that the law would result in higher premiums, but better coverage. It was that the law would lower premiums, end of story. …

A headline from the White House blog on November 4, 2009 makes it clear that the essential message about premiums hadn’t changed: “Word from the White House: Objective Analysis Shows Reform will Help Small Business, Lower Premiums for American Families.” [emphasis added] The “objective analysis” in question was a report from Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a key architect of both Obamacare and the Massachusetts health care overhaul.