ObamaCare: 10 years of distress and disappointment

March 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. In its first decade, ObamaCare has failed to solve many of the health care problems it was supposed to address. Even worse, it has compounded many of the issues it was meant to fix — the law of unintended consequences in action.

First, then-candidate Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down How Obama can win back millions of Trump voters for Biden Biden taps Obama alums for high-level campaign positions: report MORE said his namesake act would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by up to $2,500 a year.”

In reality, the opposite has occurred. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “premiums have doubled for individual health insurance plans since 2013, the year before many of Obamacare’s regulations and mandates took effect.”

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Even more shocking, HHS reports, “Average individual market premiums more than doubled from $2,784 per year in 2013 to $5,712 on Healthcare.gov in 2017—an increase of $2,928 or 105%.” Needless to say, ObamaCare has fallen woefully short in its grand ambition to slice health insurance premiums by $2,500 per year.

Second, ObamaCare supporters claimed it would drastically reduce the uninsured population. Unfortunately, this also has not happened. As of this writing, there are roughly 28 million Americans without health insurance. And the number of those without health insurance has increased in recent years. And now that the individual mandate (a dubious provision forcing Americans to purchase health insurance) has been repealed, this number is expected to rise even more.

Why is this happening? According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), “Simply put, there are too many people without subsidies who cannot afford coverage under Obamacare.”

To exemplify why millions of Americans remain uninsured, CMS provides this personal account: “A 60-year old couple in Grand Island, Nebraska making $70,000 a year—which is just slightly too much to qualify for Obamacare’s premium subsidy—is faced with paying $38,000, over half of their yearly income, to buy a silver plan with an $11,100 annual maximum out-of-pocket limit.” No wonder 28 million Americans are uninsured.

CMS notes, “We should not be surprised if they make the tough decision to drop their coverage. With a similar cold reality facing millions of American families, it was inevitable that Obamacare’s affordability crisis would eventually show up in the rates of uninsured Americans.”

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Third, President Obama repeatedly assured voters, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” After ObamaCare was enacted, millions of Americans were unable to keep their pre-ObamaCare health insurance plan.

According to a report by The Heritage Foundation, “Obamacare has significantly disrupted the market for those who buy coverage on their own by imposing new coverage and benefit mandates, causing a reported 4.7 million health insurance cancelations of an existing policy in 32 states.”

In other words, ObamaCare’s mandates and regulations have upended the health insurance market, causing millions to lose their pre-ObamaCare plans.

ObamaCare has been an abysmal failure when it comes to the integral promise of, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” Such is why President Obama’s pledge was named the Lie of the Year for 2013 by PolitiFact.

Fourth, President Obama also repeatedly guaranteed voters, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” As it turns out, this promise also fell by the wayside.

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According to MarketWatch, “Various sources note that a common (and popular) way to reduce premium costs has been to reduce the number of doctors in the insurer’s network, which leads to a much greater likelihood of people losing their doctors than without the ACA.”

Even worse, “15% of plans offered on the exchanges exclude doctors from at least one kind of specialty” notes the National Institute of Health. Put another way, after ObamaCare took effect, millions of Americans lost access to their doctors.  

Sadly, since ObamaCare’s inception one decade ago, the vast majority of Americans are not better off in terms of their health insurance costs and health care access. ObamaCare has failed miserably because it lacks free-market principles and is a one-size-fits all, centrally planned boondoggle.

In the next decade, and for decades to come, the American health care system would function much more optimally if patients, not bureaucrats, were allowed to take control of their health care decisions.

Chris Talgo is an editor at The Heartland Institute.