President: ObamaCare benefits are 'staggering'

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The positive effect of ObamaCare on the economy has been "staggering," President Obama argued Thursday during a speech at Northwestern University.

"There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world," the president said.

The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, Obama argued that a "dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare" had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.

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"If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are," Obama said. "That’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut."

And, Obama said, the cost of government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid are decreasing alongside the costs of private insurance.

"Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits," Obama said. "Healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down."

Healthcare costs, on average, have risen at a slower pace than before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But critics of the program say that the slowed premium growth during the Obama presidency could be partially attributed to the economy's overall problems.

Moreover, they say, current premium costs are artificially dampened by a provision of the law that protects the insurance companies from losses over the first three years of ObamaCare. And those living in certain areas — especially with older or smaller populations — could see significant upticks this year.

Obama said it was also important to consider how many benefitted from his signature healthcare law.

"In just the last year, we’ve reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent," Obama said. "That means 1 in 4 uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year."

The president also argued that the availability of insurance through ObamaCare meant young entrepreneurs were freed "to strike out on your own and chase that new idea," rather than remaining in jobs that provided medical coverage.