Obamacare Is Still Failing Five Years Later

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Monday was the fifth anniversary of Obamacare. Seven Democratic senators marked it by asking to delay yet another provision of the law.

Putting companies with 51 to 100 employees in the costlier “small group” market could be “harmful and disruptive,” they said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Silvia Burwell.

Please give the uninsured another chance to avoid the fine for not having health insurance, three House Democrats asked in a letter to President Barack Obama in February.

“If Obamacare is so great, why do Democrats repeatedly try to hide its more unpleasant features?” Investors Business Daily asked them.

Before the law was passed, President Obama assured us:

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. (Tens of thousands — chiefly seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage — have learned they can’t. Only 32 percent of 3,072 physicians surveyed by medical HR firm Jackson Coker say they’ll join the Obamacare network.)

If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. (Hundreds of thousands — most recently in Colorado — have had their plans canceled. Up to 20 million eventually might, the Congressional Budget Office once estimated.)

Premiums for the average family will be cut by up to $2,500. (Premiums in the non-group marketplace were 24.4 percent higher last year than they would have been absent Obamacare, said the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits,” the president said. (Obamacare will raise net federal costs by $1.35 trillion over the next decade, CBO estimated in January.)

“This law means more choice, more competition,” he said. (The year before Obamacare went into effect, 1,232 carriers offered insurance coverage in the individual market, said the Government Accountability Office. This year, owing in part to market concentration, only 310 do.)

No wonder the law’s defenders strive frantically to move the goalposts. Obamacare is a success because more people have health insurance, they say. You have to pay a fine if you don’t have insurance, so this “accomplishment” is pretty lame — especially since so many uninsured pay the fine rather than buy overpriced insurance.

Many of the 11.4 million Obamacare “signups” of which the administration boasts previously had health insurance. Only 6.7 million of the 8 million “signups” claimed for last year actually enrolled.

CBO predicted when Obamacare was passed that this year 26 million more Americans would have health insurance. This month, CBO scaled that estimate back by more than 10 million, though one reason is that 23 states chose not to expand Medicaid.

Premiums will rise about 8.5 percent this year and next, CBO estimates. In the two years before Obamacare was enacted, premiums rose just 0.6 percent and 1.3 percent.

Obamacare’s true cost is disguised by subsidies for insurance companies due to expire in 2017, writes Stephen Parente, professor of health finance at the University of Minnesota. When they do, premiums for “Bronze” plans will soar as much as 45 percent.

Obamacare clobbers employment, say businesses surveyed by Federal Reserve banks in New York and Philadelphia. When the oft-delayed employer mandate finally kicks in, thousands more will lose their jobs.

Obamacare has been underwater in 200 consecutive polls, by larger margins since implementation began. As more Americans discover their “inexpensive” policy has an enormous deductible or get a nasty surprise from the IRS, I wouldn’t bet on it becoming more popular.

Obamacare will cost some $50,000 for each additional person insured, according to some calculations. “There’s no way we can afford it,” said author Stephen Brill.

In a year or two, when premiums and fines soar, Obamacare will be in a “death spiral,” if it isn’t already in one.

It’s understandable why President Obama clings to his “signature achievement.” But why do nearly all other Democrats? Some who voted for Obamacare must have thought it would help their constituents. Now that it’s clear it hurts them and that many of them hate it, why won’t they fix their mistake? 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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