Healthcare costs still rising (but "not soaring") under Obamacare

If you had a nagging feeling that you were still paying more and more for healthcare coverage while getting fewer covered services, you probably weren’t imagining it, at least according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund. But before digging into the details, I would take a moment to note how this phenomena is described by Noam Levey of the LA Times.

Although the Affordable Care Act has not led to soaring insurance costs, as many critics claimed it would, the law hasn’t provided much relief to American workers either, according to a new study of employer-provided health benefits.

Workers continue to be squeezed by rising insurance costs, eroding benefits and stagnant wages, the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found.

Why would you waste our time in such a blatant and ineffective attempt to discredit critics of Obamacare and shore up the reputation of the program when you’re about to show that it has failed in one of its principal selling points? So the “critics” were clearly wrong because the costs of insurance are not soaring. But in the very next sentence we are informed that these insurance costs are rising to the point where workers are being squeezed, their benefits are eroding and their wages are stagnant.

Well, I know I certainly feel better now. For a moment there I was afraid that the costs might be soaring, but there’s clearly nothing to worry about.

But with that minor quibble out of the way, the consumers most affected here are not those on public assistance or the very wealthy. We’re once again talking about working Americans who are fortunate enough to still have one of those employer provided plans which they were promised they could keep. Their average contribution has now risen to 9.6% of their income, almost twice the 5.3% they were kicking in back in 2003, and more than a 1% increase just since 2010. It is frequently among the largest chunks eaten out of a worker’s paycheck.

Let us not forget that we were repeatedly assured that rates would be lower under Obamacare, not just the same or rising more slowly. Nancy Pelosi assured us of that as recently as 2012, though she suffered a mysterious loss of memory on the subject only nine months later. But as I found out first hand early in 2014, when the government mandates a whole raft of new benefits that everyone must get, (whether they want it or not) then they have to be paid for. And those costs are passed on to the customer.

This plan has been a failure. No mixing of adjectives to describe the extent of the failure is going to change anything.

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David Strom 10:01 AM on February 04, 2023