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Weighing the ACA
Premium Hikes Get Steeper

Contra its most vocal right-wing critics, the Affordable Care Act has done some good, including making health benefits more mobile, and expanding coverage to millions of people, primarily through subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. But contra its most self-satisfied liberal defenders, it also has not achieved what its backers initially said was one of its key objectives: reducing the cost of private insurance. Over the last few years, premiums for health plans on the exchanges have risen rapidly—and next year, they are expected to rise even more sharply still. The AP reports:

Premiums for popular low-cost medical plans under the federal health care law are expected to go up an average of 11 percent next year, said a study that reinforced reports of sharp increases around the country in election season. […]

The Kaiser study looked at 14 metro areas for which complete data on insurer premium requests is already available. It found that premiums for a level of insurance called the “lowest-cost silver plan” will go up in 12 of the areas, while decreasing in two. The changes range from a decrease of 14 percent in Providence, Rhode Island, to an increase of 26 percent in Portland, Oregon.

Half of the cities will see increases of 10 percent or more. Last year, only two of the cities had double-digit increases.

Rising premiums threaten the architecture of the law because they could force healthy people off of the exchanges and cause premiums to shoot up even more. But even if the dreaded “death spiral” never comes into effect, the latest numbers drive home the point that America’s healthcare debate is far from over. Obamacare’s architects took aim at access, rather than affordability, meaning that while more Americans today enjoy health coverage, middle class families are increasingly hurting as premiums dig deeper into their paychecks.

But in the long run, as we like to say, affordability is access. The next round of reforms needs to be focused not on growing government healthcare programs, but on making care itself faster, cheaper, and more affordable.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Contra TAI, the ACA has made health insurance more costly and reduced the availability of heath care. The fact at least 85% of those with ACA insurance have subsidies doesn’t change the cost, just who’s paying the premiums. The ridiculously high deductibles mean that the insured can’t afford to get treatment. An ACA policy is, in effect, nothing but very expensive catastrophic insurance.

  • Jim__L

    Let’s all once again celebrate the Grand Compromise, that Via Media, that was discovered during the ’80s before our politics got so dysfunctional.

    Remember, Leftists want High Taxes (unpopular) and High Spending (popular),
    while Conservatives want Low Taxes (popular) and Low Spending (unpopular).

    Let’s all celebrate the genius of the moderates of the 80’s, who just took the most popular parts of each proposal, and went triumphantly from there!

    In totally absolutely undeniably unrelated news, municipalities around the country are going bankrupt, and are being forced by cruel and unusual capitalists to have High Taxes and Low Spending, instead of keeping the sacred promises that they made to their supporters way back in the day.

  • CosmotKat

    “Contra its most vocal right-wing critics, the Affordable Care Act has done some good, including making health benefits more mobile, and expanding coverage to millions of people, primarily through subsidies and the Medicaid expansion.”

    Can you back that up with facts, WRM? It seems the cost/benefit analysis would suggest this comment does not hold. What good does mobility do if Obamacare if the policies are inadequate and unaffordable, and the access to service is poor? Who is paying for those subsidies and how much more will the producers pay when Democrats use government coercion to extend these benefits to illegal immigrants who should not have access to these programs. Citing humanitarian reasons would be a false narrative.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Well lets be fair now…the COVERAGE has been expanded and made more portable, that is undeniably true. Of course the coverage is worthless with high deductibles, limited applicability to doctors/specialists, etc. So everyone has health care COVERAGE, but no health care….

      • CosmotKat

        Point well made. The question is/was, “is it worth it” for the American people? Since it’s inception the answer has always been a resounding NO!

        • f1b0nacc1

          Of course it wasn’t…we entirely agree. But the point was not to provide better healthcare, it was to provide more government control and cronyism for the political class.

          • CosmotKat

            You got that right.

  • Boritz

    “Rising premiums threaten fulfill the architecture of the law because they could force healthy people off of the exchanges and cause premiums to shoot up even more.” [and force the need for a more severe ‘rescue’ which the public will beg for and that is the real endgame]

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