Obama tells plant manager his health-care costs are rising because he doesn't know how to shop

President Obama was in Indiana today to tout the dropping unemployment rate, brag about bailouts, and studiously ignore the shrinking national work force today at an economics speech.

Obama toured Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., a major supplier for Toyota’s manufacturing plant, on National Manufacturing Day, before the company’s president, Henry Jackson, introduced him.

Obama then spoke to workers and the media about America’s renewed economic strength, built on the back of manufacturing.

“The best place to invest money is here in the United States of America,” Obama told the crowd.

However, one obstacle to a stronger comeback, he said, is income equality.

Obama said he supported the bailout of the U.S. auto industry after the recession hit six years ago.

“We decided to help our automakers to retool, to rebuild,” he said. “The Midwest got hit harder than most because we are the backbone of the American economy.”

But he said investments in manufacturing now are beginning to pay off.

Manufacturing has added 700,000 new jobs, Obama said, and is growing twice as fast as the economy as a whole.

He said those manufacturing jobs have good pay and good benefits and have a “ripple effect” on the entire economy.

During the Q&A segment of the event, on general manager revealed that the Affordable Care Act has not led to decreases in health care costs for all American businesses and families, even though that’s what Obama and its supporters promised. No, this general manager at Millennium Steel has found quite the opposite and wonders when the decreases might start:

I am the general manager at Millennium Steel. we are honored to have you. One of the questions I had is about the health care costs. We are seeing almost a double-digit increase in health-care costs every year. Do you think that trend is going to go down, and what can we do to control that trend?

If only this person in charge of buying health insurance for employees understood how well Obamacare is working in the real world. The president helpfully offers that this manager is probably just shopping incorrectly. Please excuse the run-on sentences.

That is interesting. You’re going to have to talk to Henry because — no, no, no, this is serious. The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough, because it turns out that this year and in fact over the course of the last four years, premiums have gone up at the slowest rate in 50 years. So health care [costs] have actually… slowed down significantly, and it is having an effect both on businesses and families and the federal debt, because most of the federal debt, when folks talk about we got to drive down the debt, do something about the debt, it turns out that most of the federal deficit and the federal debt over the last decade has come from health-care costs going up so high among which means Medicare and Medicaid costs start going up, and that has gobbled up a bigger and bigger share of the federal budget. Because health care costs are going up much more slowly than expected, so far we anticipate we are going to save about $188 billion over the next 10 years… in reduced health care costs.

So the issue now is what can we do to make sure that you at at Millennium are shopping and seeing more competition, Because the problem with the health-care market is there are different pockets in different parts of the country. What we are doing is to make sure there’s is more competition, driving down costs when it comes to both businesses who are trying to buy health care for their employees, but also folks who do not get health care on the job and are having to buy it on the end that is part of what the affordable care act is all about.

And, where might this American employer go to shop better?

Now, the Affordable Care Act is also known as Obamacare. for a while, everybody was saying, using that as kind of an insult. I’m feeling pretty good about it being called Obamacare. I suspect that about five years from now when everybody agrees it is working they will not call it Obamacare anymore. [laughter] That is ok. But part of the — part of what we did there is we set up what is called these marketplaces, these exchanges, where individuals can go online and shop, and as you know, the website was really bad for the first three months. It is now in really good shape and we have signed up 10 million people to get health care coverage, in many times, for the first time, and we are giving them tax credits to help lower the cost even more.

Ahh, yes, Healthcare.gov. Get on that.

The president goes on with what has become the go-to pitch for the Obama presidency. He abandons all his original promises and explains how things could have been worse— “about $1800 higher per family than…they actually have turned out to be. Now, you think about that. $1800 — that is money in your pocket that otherwise would be going to you paying for your health care premiums. It is like a $1800 tax cut.”

And, then a more enticing offer:

I am going to make sure — are you in charge of buying health care? You are? What I’m going to do is make sure you that you talk to some of our health-care market folks. I bet we can get you a better deal. All right? We will see if we can save you a little money.”

The problem is that the promise was premiums would be $2,500 lower per family than they were before Obamacare, not rising by slightly smaller double digits, not $1,800 lower than they would have been, not marginally more affordable. Now this general manager, whose job is to figure out how to get the best deal on health care for his company, has been publicly told by the president he’s probably bad at his job because that’s what it takes to bail out Obama’s false promises.

I guess the good news is, all you have to do for a shot at all those savings the president told us about is get into the room with the actual president, ask him about your health-care costs, and get his crack staff digging them up for you. It’s no guarantee, but cheer up. It’s apparently a lot easier to get close to the president these days than it used to be. So, we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.