Premiums Take a Hike under Obamacare

Barb Wire

Obamacare is getting a premium check-up — but it’s consumers who are starting to feel sick. After more than a half-decade of the president’s spectacular failure, health care insurers can’t make a living — and Americans are forking over theirs for the most basic of coverage. Now, desperate to stop the financial bleeding, insurance companies are turning to states for permission to raise premiums, in some cases as much as 58 percent!

The gloomy forecast is just the latest chapter in the downfall of the president’s not-so Affordable Care Act. The incredibly shrinking bandwagon known as Obamacare is even emptier now that insurers have hopped off to keep their own companies from crashing. Like UnitedHealth, Humana, and others, the industry has been burning through dollars trying to prop up a system full of sick people. Now, bit by hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, most companies have no choice but to pass the costs on to already strapped customers. On October 1, the states will finalize their premium rates — and policy shoppers are in for their biggest shocks yet. If you thought 2016 was bad, experts warn, it’s nothing compared to 2017’s pricing.

Rates are set to go through the roof, where states are looking at anywhere from a 20-percent spike in premiums to 44 and 58 percent in places like Vermont and Texas. “Making coverage available to everyone regardless of medical history, at the same price and with limited variation based on age, is one of the most popular provisions of the law,” the Wall Street Journal points out. “But it also has increased the cost of insurance for many healthy people, causing a quandary for insurers who are trying to encourage people with cleaner bills of health to buy coverage and offset the costs of sicker enrollees.” Making matters worse, there’s even less competition for lower pricing now that some of the big dogs of the industry are dropping out of the exchange — or dramatically scaling back their involvement.

Of course, none of this is rocket science. Well before 2010, people warned that the system couldn’t sustain itself unless there was an infusion of younger, healthier, paying plan holders. Turns out, that wasn’t something the natural market forces of supply and demand could accomplish. Despite years of pitiful enrollment, the president and his party seem to be in a state of perpetual surprise that Obamacare is collapsing on itself. And while there’s never a good time for news as bleak as this, Democrats have to be sweating bullets (and ballots) over the October 1 rate deadline. With the election looming, the last thing Hillary Clinton wants is to give Americans another reason to vote against her.

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Despite the law’s unpopularity, their party’s presidential front-runner stubbornly argues that the law is a “big step forward.” If she continues, her campaign stands to take a big step back, as more people struggle to afford the plans they never wanted to be forced to buy in the first place. “Maybe Democrats think the middle class should just get over double-digit premium increases,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back. “Maybe Democrats think it’s funny that millions of Americans lost their plans because of Obamacare. Republicans think we should work toward better care instead.”

While we don’t know who the next president will be, we know one thing for certain: whoever it is will be inheriting a train wreck of a health care exchange. This is why Americans need to be paying attention. Elections have consequences — some intended, others unintended. If Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had told Americans what Obamacare would lead to — taxpayer-funded abortion and sex changes, skyrocketing premiums, job losses, canceled coverage, business cutbacks, attacks on conscience, dozens of lawsuits — there’s no doubt the resistance would have been insurmountable.

As far as FRC is concerned, the only way to fix Obamacare is replacing it completely. We won’t rest until human life and the liberties of Americans are protected — not attacked — by our government. If the president’s party won’t listen now, then I guarantee they’ll listen at the ballot booth.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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