The human costs of ObamaCare’s broken promises

It’s no secret that ObamaCare has failed to deliver on its backers’ promises of more affordable and accessible health care. In fact, numerous promises made to pass the law have been broken by this point – and these broken promises are taking a tremendous toll on Americans’ health and livelihoods.

Nowhere is this more evident than health-care costs. Just last week, a major poll found that 55 percent of Americans are paying more for health care—and only 11 percent are paying less. This is a far cry from President Obama’s frequent promise that ObamaCare would save the average family up to $2,500 a year in premiums.

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Instead, premiums for employer-provided plans have increased by 35 percent since 2009, growing from $13,375 to $18,142 annually. And the individual market has fared even worse. The Manhattan Institute estimates that individual premiums rose by 41 percent from 2013 to 2014, with further increases in 2015 and 2016.

And next year, premiums are projected to increase by an average of 24 percent nationwide.

That doesn’t even account for the sky-high deductibles, which are not covered by the law's subsidies. For individuals on silver and bronze plans, insurance doesn’t kick in until they have dished out on average $3,000 and $5,600, respectively.

That explains why millions of Americans don’t bother to enroll in the law – it’s simply not a good deal for them. This trend is reflected in the projected enrollment numbers that are far below the Obama administration’s predictions.

To date, the exchanges still have less than half the anticipated enrollees. Even many who qualify for subsidies are choosing to pay the fine for not obtaining health insurance and are opting out of ObamaCare entirely. That’s in large part due to the fact that, as the Kaiser Family Foundation found, it is more cost-effective for seven million of the 11 million uninsured to pay the ObamaCare penalty than to buy the least expensive – but still very pricey – ObamaCare plan.

But costs aren’t the only problem. Despite President Obama’s promise of abundant choices, more and more Americans are left with fewer options and, as a result, many are going uncovered.

Next year, nearly a third of all U.S. counties will only have one insurer to choose from on the exchanges – a 300 percent increase from 2016. And of the plans that will be available, 75 percent are expected to be narrow network plans, or plans that cover a sparse number of doctors and procedures, according a recent survey of key states.

The lack of choices hits even closer to home. Nearly one in four adults has lost access to his or her doctor in the last year alone, according to a recently released Morning Consult poll, despite the fact that President Obama and his allies promised repeatedly that Americans could keep their doctor.

Moreover, one in five adults has opted not to seek care for a worsening condition for fear of astronomical out-of-pocket costs, even with insurance - a serious human cost of Obamacare.

What’s more, even as individuals are being forced to pay more for less care, some have been forced into part-time work.

Then Speaker Nancy Pelosi told us in 2010 that, “The best action we can do to create jobs and strengthen our economic security is pass health care reform.”

But the law’s backers failed to tell us ObamaCare would create a whole new category of workers: they call themselves the 29ers – it’s not a proud distinction. These are workers who have been forced to work less than 30 hours a week because otherwise their employer would be forced to provide an ObamaCare-approved health-care plan, which for many is simply not an option given the cost.

In total, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that for 2017 the reduction in hours worked is equivalent to two million full-time employees leaving the workforce altogether.

The bottom line is that ObamaCare’s broken promises have caused immense harm to millions of hardworking Americans from coast to coast. The facts are obvious for all to see. And the longer the law lingers, the more damage it will do the very people it was supposed to help. That’s one ObamaCare promise that can’t be broken.

Akash Chougule is director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.