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June 20, 2017

Supporting Obamacare Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry


Democrats, and only Democrats, gave us the political and health care disaster that is known as Obamacare. In a better world they would admit their mistakes, apologize and offer to work with Republicans who are trying to fix this mess. 

But this is not a better world. 

Instead, because this a political battle as much, or even more, than a health care battle, Democrats defend Obamacare as great health insurance that just needs a few tweaks. 

Thus, they have been reduced to defending: 

Outrageously high deductibles —  Free market conservatives have long supported high deductible health insurance policies, ideally combined with a health savings account (HSA). But we usually talked about deductibles in the $2,500 range. 

Before Obamacare, Democrats habitually accused conservatives of being in the pocket of health insurers. They claimed that workers were paying premiums and insurers kept the money because of the high deductible. 

Under Obamacare, deductibles in the individual market are routinely are $6,000 or $7,000, and $14,000 for a family. As a result, low-income families with Obamacare coverage are seeking care from free clinics because they can’t afford their out-of-pocket costs. And Democrats think that’s good insurance

Exploding premiums — After Obamacare passed, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned insurers that any request for a premium increase of more than 10 percent would be closely scrutinized by HHS bureaucrats. That’s laughable today. 

Individual market premium increases in the 40-percent range are common—IF there is an exchange plan available. 

For example, Medica, a nonprofit insurer, has apparently reversed an earlier decision and will keep a presence in Iowa, but it’s seeking a 43.5 percent premium increase

“Skinny" (and getting skinnier) provider networks — One of Obamacare’s most disruptive consequences is that health insurers are thinning out provider networks in order to control costs. But that means millions of people in the individual market, and increasingly in the group market, can no longer see a doctor they have been with for years.  

In the late 1990s, then-Vice President Al Gore went on a crusade to counteract HMOs’ efforts to limit access to providers and certain types of care. And Democratic, along with many Republicans, joined in. 

Even so, the large majority of Americans still had access to most doctors, medical procedures and medicines—until Democrats “fixed” the system. 

The point is that Obamacare now includes elements Democrats habitually denounced all the way up to its implementation in 2014. And yet because they are the ones who passed it and assured us how well it would work, they think they have no political choice but to minimize the problems and assert it is working as intended. 

They will never apologize for their health care debacle because trying to hold onto their seats is more important than ensuring your access to quality, affordable health insurance.


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