Do you suppose Congress could investigate how health insurance got so expensive?

This is a subject that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle over the past year or so. After the GOP failed to repeal Obamacare, the conversation shifted and the country moved on to new things to fight over. A few of the healthcare bill’s worst elements were gutted out, but the main product remains on the books. And even worse, one of the truly awful consequences of the passage of the so-called “Affordable” Care Act is still with us.

If the newly divided Congress would like to do something actually useful that both parties should be able to get behind, here’s a suggestion. How about you examine just how astronomically health insurance costs have skyrocketed over the past seven years and figure out if there’s anything that can be done about it?

Someone recently sent me links to a pair of charts that you really need to look at and digest for a while. No matter how bad you thought this situation was, it’s probably even worse than you imagined. First, let’s take a peek at this chart from eHealth. It shows the average cost of insurance premiums and deductibles over the life of the program.

As you’ll see, in the six-year period from 2008 through 2013, the average individual premium only went up by roughly 40 dollars, while deductibles for individuals rose by around $,1300. Then, from 2014 (the first year of Obamacare) through 2017, a period of only four years, individual premiums shot up by just shy of $200 on average. Premiums on family plans were even worse.

If that’s not enough data, check out this chart from The Motley Fool. It shows the average, combined cost of premiums and deductibles for families in the pre and post-Obamacare eras. (Click for full-size image)

Notice the rate of change from 2008 to 2013, followed by the granite wall we ran into after Obamacare kicked into action. That’s an “affordable” care plan? It’s been exactly the opposite, but since government programs are almost impossible to eliminate once summoned into existence, our costs continue to rise, vastly outpacing the average total cost of living or increases in wages.

This is an untenable situation. Rather than “fixing” the health insurance system, the government broke it when they passed Obamacare and the only ones seeing any benefit are the insurance companies. Granted, the very poorest Americans living below the poverty level have been able to get government-subsidized plans that are dirt cheap, but that’s a tiny slice of the population and everyone else is getting hammered to keep this boondoggle afloat. The situation is clearly fixable, but not if Congress sits on its collective hands.