Opinion: Editorials

Obamacare isn't reducing health care costs

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Photo - Doctor examining pregnant woman
Doctor examining pregnant woman
Opinion,Editorial

"To say it as plainly as I can," President Obama told the American Medical Association in 2009. "Health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for America's long-term fiscal health. That is a fact." Considering that the explosive growth of Medicare and Medicaid spending are the driving forces behind our current deficits, Obama was dead right in that 2009 speech.

But in 2010, on the eve of the passage of Obamacare, Obama told the House Democratic Caucus, "Everybody who's looked at it says that every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start actually reducing health care costs are in this bill." And on that score, he was dead wrong. Many experts, and even former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, said at that time that Obamacare would cause more, not less, health spending. Now a slew of new reports confirms their analysis.

When he ran for president in 2008, Obama promised he would lower health insurance premiums for families by $2,500 in his first term. But earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual Employer Health Benefits Survey showing that average family health insurance premiums have gone up by more than $2,500 ($2,730 to be exact), not down. Then, this week, the Health Care Cost Institute released its annual Health Care Cost and Utilization Report showing that, after briefly slowing down due to the recession in 2009 and 2010, overall health care spending rose 4.6 percent last year, far outpacing both inflation and wages.

Seniors have also been hit hard by the rising cost of health care since Obamacare became law. Yesterday, Avalere Health, a health care consulting company, reported that premiums for seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will increase by double digits. Seniors using the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, for example, will see their premiums rise by 23 percent, while the Humana Enhanced plan will go up by 11 percent.

"[T]he status quo is unsustainable," Obama went on to say in his 2009 AMA speech. "If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade." Obama and the Democrats did act. And this June, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that, even if all of Obamacare's scheduled Medicare price controls go into effect on schedule, health spending as a percentage of gross domestic product will rise to 19.6 percent by 2021.

If Americans were spending all this money on health care by their own choosing, that would be one thing. The American people should be free to spend money on what they wanted. The flaw of Obamacare, however, which will only become more obvious with every new report, is that it forces some Americans, under penalty of law, to carry a larger and larger share of the price of other Americans' health care, through higher premiums and mandates and new taxes. This recipe has never before led to lower costs, and it's already being proved a repeat failure under Obamacare.

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