Obamacare is a costly and dangerous failure.
For example, we now know that, contrary to claims made when the bill passed, the law will not come close to achieving universal coverage. In fact, as time goes by, it looks as if the bill will cover fewer and fewer people than advertised. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office released last week, Obamacare will leave 27 million Americans uninsured by 2022. This represents an increase of 2–4 million uninsured over previous reports. Moreover, it should be noted that, of the 23 million Americans who will gain coverage under Obamacare, 17 million will not be covered by real insurance, but will simply be dumped into the Medicaid system, with all its problems of access and quality. Thus, only about 20 million Americans will receive actual insurance coverage under Obamacare. That’s certainly an improvement over the status quo, but it’s also a far cry from universal coverage — and not much bang for the buck, given Obamacare’s ever-rising cost.
At the same time, the legislation is a major failure when it comes to controlling costs. While we were once told that health-care reform would “bend the cost curve down,” we now know that Obamacare will actually increase U.S. health-care spending. This should come as no surprise: If you are going to provide more benefits to more people, it is going to cost you more money. The law contained few efforts to actually contain health-care costs, and the CBO now reports that many of the programs it did contain, such as disease management and care coordination, will not actually reduce costs. As the CBO noted, “in nearly every program involving disease management and care coordination, spending was either unchanged or increased relative to the spending that would have occurred in the absence of the program, when the fees paid to the participating organization were considered.”
All this spending means that we will pay much more in debt and taxes. But we will also pay more in insurance premiums. Once upon a time, the president promised us that health-care reform would lower our insurance premiums by $2,500 per year. That claim has long since been abandoned. Insurance premiums are continuing to rise at record rates. And, while there are many factors driving premiums up, Obamacare itself is one of them. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance premiums had been rising at roughly 5 percent per year pre-Obamacare. That jumped to 9 percent last year. And roughly half that four-percentage-point increase can be directly attributed to Obamacare. Even Jonathan Gruber of MIT, one of the architects of both Obamacare and Romneycare, now admits that many individuals will end up paying more for insurance than they would have without the reform — even after taking into account government subsidies — and that those increases will be substantial. According to Gruber, “after the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.”
Finally, if the past two years should have taught us anything, it is that we may not be able to keep our current insurance, even if we are happy with it. The CBO suggests that as many as 20 million workers could lose their employer-provided health insurance as a result of Obamacare. Instead, they will be dumped into government-run insurance exchanges. And, the recent dust-up over insurance coverage for contraceptives is a clear illustration of how the government will now be designing insurance plans for all of us. Regardless of how one feels about the contraceptive mandate itself, it is just the tip of the iceberg as government mandates tell employers what insurance they must provide, and tell us what insurance we must buy, even if that insurance is more expensive, contains benefits we don’t want, or violates our consciences.
Next week, Obamacare will slouch its way to the Supreme Court. How the justices decide will be based on questions of constitutional law. Their decision will set a crucial precedent in setting the boundaries between government power and individual rights. But regardless of whether the Court upholds Obamacare or strikes it down, in whole or in part, we should understand that, simply as a matter of health-care reform, Obamacare is a costly and dangerous failure.