Left must answer for Obamacare failure
You’ll remember all those romantic charts and stories from the liberal smart set predicting Obamacare’s affordability and success. Remember the jeering aimed at conservatives who argued that state-run markets inhibiting genuine competition and increasing regulations would only spur costs to rise? “Lies,” liberals said.
Mandating and subsidizing health insurance will decrease the number of uninsured. Yet punditry on the left seems to be under the impression that coercing people to participate is revolutionary policymaking. Countless times in 2009, the president promised that exchanges would offer those newly insured Americans more quality “choices” and “affordability” and push down rates overall. (He promised the rest of us that health care premiums would fall by $2,500 for a family of four. Instead, they’ve risen by over $4,800.)
New administration data released this week find that Obamacare premiums will spike an average of 25 percent across the country for benchmark plans in 2017. Americans will be forced to forfeit plans they like or lose insurance altogether and accept a tax or fine.
But don’t worry; consumers on exchanges will also have far fewer choices. The number of health insurance carriers in the exchanges will drop from 298 this year to 228 in 2017. In five states—Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming—there will be only one insurance company providing plans in 2017. It’s one too many for many on the left.
Obamacare is working so well that Democrats are now pressuring Republicans to fix it and Hillary Clinton is arguing that to save it, we need a “public option”—a euphemism for a government-run insurance program. You can’t save contrived marketplaces, because they never work. They don’t work even when you allow cronyistic insurance companies to write policy. They don’t work simply because technocrats massage numbers and cram them into a line chart.
Even as he was boasting about his signature achievement this past week, President Obama conceded that six years after passage, Obamacare is still experiencing “growing pains.” You know, it’s just like a “starter home,” he said. “You hope that over time, you make some improvements.”
Rest assured, those “improvements” never mean opening up markets or loosening restrictions. In other words, health care reform was exactly what many Republicans feared it would be: a way to incrementally socialize the system.
There are about 10 million customers who purchase their health care through HealthCare.gov and state-run offshoots. With no effective national reform in sight, that number will most likely grow. Although these consumers will have fewer choices, they will still receive financial assistance to offset the rate hikes. A spike in rates on the benchmark plans means more subsidies. Someone has to pay for what turns out to be little more than a new welfare program.
The trajectory of the law, though, offers us two choices, broadly speaking.
Republicans could let the law die. They could then reform the health care system by allowing it to function more like every other successful market in the country—with minimal interference from politicians.
Or we could all accept another giant unfunded liability, higher taxes, and further socialization of our health care system. The only question will be how quickly it will happen.
David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and author of “The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy.”