When ObamaCare was enacted, President Obama promised Americans that health insurance companies would be held accountable for providing affordable, quality health care to patients. He assured us that competition in the marketplace would increase and that consumers would be given a range of options. Today, more than five years after this disastrous law’s passage, we have yet to see any of these promises delivered.
ObamaCare hasn’t brought health costs down, it hasn’t increased market competition, and it certainly hasn’t given patients more choices when it comes to their health care. In fact, it’s had the opposite effect. By fueling some of the biggest health insurance mergers in history, this deeply flawed law has reduced accountability and transparency in the health insurance marketplace, raised premiums and out-of-pocket costs for hard-working Americans, and encouraged narrower networks and less options.
The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” was intended to provide Americans, as the official name implies, with affordable healthcare. In fact, the entire crux of the legislation was built around benefiting patients first and foremost. However, the real winners of ObamaCare are the health insurance companies (and their investors) whose profits are skyrocketing as they continue to raise costs to unprecedented levels.
In 2016, Americans can expect premium rate increases that will be higher than they’ve been in years. Insurers have asked for double-digit rate increases for nearly one out of every three plans that will be sold on the exchanges. For instance, in Minnesota, rates are increasing to 49 percent for the largest insurer in the state – Blue Cross and Blue Shield – who’s largest member company, Anthem, is planning to acquire Cigna in a $54 billion deal that would cover 53 million members if approved. Meanwhile, as patients continue to pay more for health care nationwide, the five largest health insurers’ stocks are up an average of 107 percent over the past two years.
ObamaCare was supposed to increase competition in the health insurance market place, but instead it has driven major mergers by imposing regulations that encourage insurers to spread fixed costs over large pools of patients to boost profits. Due to a lack of competition, insurers have not only been able to raise premiums, but also restrict access to doctors and hospitals by implementing narrower coverage networks, resulting in less choice and higher costs when patients are forced to seek care out of their small networks. President Obama may have promised to hold insurance companies “honest” and “accountable” under his health care law, but the reality is that health insurers are taking advantage of the President’s unworkable law and increasing their profits at the expense of affordable care for consumers.
One thing is clear: our country faces many challenges when it comes to health care. And the last thing Americans need is another misguided leader with failed policies that discourage risk taking and innovation. Yet, after seeing Secretary Clinton’s proposal to address prescription drug costs, we should be deeply concerned about another national health care policy that could have disastrous effects.
Clinton’s sweeping proposal combines a number of misguided policies that would undermine access and choice of medicines for patients. It would also destroy incentives to invest in new cures and life-saving treatments. A reckless plan of this magnitude would reduce American economic competitiveness and send critical U.S. jobs overseas.
ObamaCare has already created a litany of burdensome regulations and broken promises. Clinton’s proposal to inject the government into yet another industry to set price controls on life-saving medicines will only further harm consumers.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.