Politics & Policy

What Obama Can’t Admit

He’s still insisting that health care will be cheaper under ACA, despite evidence to the contrary.

Do you believe the president or your lying insurance premium?

Soon, that will be the most important question about Obamacare. President Barack Obama continues to insist that under the law, as he said in his pre-vacation press conference, people are going to be able to “sign up for affordable quality health insurance at a significantly cheaper rate than what they can get right now on the individual market.”

This has been his sales pitch for his health-care law from the beginning, and it’s never been true. But admitting that Obamacare will mean higher rates for many people is too painful a concession to make, so the president simply doesn’t make it, despite all the evidence contradicting his rote assurances of lower premiums.

The news reports of impending rate shock, driven by the law’s new regulations, keep rolling in, especially in states that don’t already have insurance rules like those in Obamacare. “Some lightly regulated states,” CNN reports, “including Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and South Carolina, have recently released preliminary rate information highlighting steep price increases.” Florida estimates an average premium increase of 35 percent, and Ohio projects an average increase of 41 percent.

It is young and healthy people, forced by the law to buy expensive insurance that they wouldn’t otherwise purchase, who will be particularly hard hit (the idea is that less-healthy people will benefit). Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute crunched the numbers in California. He found that in San Francisco and San Diego, rates for 25-year-olds in the individual market will roughly double; and in Los Angeles County they will rise by 44 percent.

#ad#Small businesses are also vulnerable. According to the Associated Press, “Insurance companies have already warned small business customers that premiums could rise 20 percent or more in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. That’s making some owners consider not paying for coverage for workers’ families.”

In other words, the president is right that rates will change “significantly,” just not in the direction he has promised since he began talking about health-care reform. As a presidential candidate, he said his reform would lower premiums for families by $2,500 on average. He maintained that the only change for people already with insurance would be cheaper premiums. During the congressional debate over the law, arguments to the contrary were pooh-poohed and scorned by the president’s allies.

Today, those arguments have been vindicated. Avik Roy points out that one PricewaterhouseCoopers study in 2009 that found premiums in the individual market would increase by 47 percent during the next few years was derided by the Left, but may have been too modest in its projection. Yet the president still speaks as if premiums are only going down. Years ago, it could have been chalked up to wishfulness and ignorance of how insurance markets work. Now, it’s simply refusing to acknowledge reality.

Defenders of the law minimize the rate increases by saying people will be getting better insurance for their money. Besides, they add, some low-income people will get subsidies. But this doesn’t change the essential facts. If someone owned a Ford because it suited his budget and needs and then you made him buy a Cadillac, you are making him buy a pricier car. It is still a more expensive car, even if taxpayers offset some or all of the costs.

At least liberal analysts are willing to admit that premiums are going up, which the president can’t yet bring himself to do. Jonathan Cohn, a staunch defender of the law at The New Republic, lamented the president’s misleading remark at his press conference. He wrote of average listeners: “They’d come away thinking their insurance will be cheaper next year. For some, it won’t be. Obama isn’t doing himself, or the law, any favors by fostering a false expectation.”

But that false expectation, surely, is the entire point, and always has been.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He is also the author of the recently released book Lincoln Unbound. He can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2013 King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

U.S.

Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More
Books

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated

Beto O’Rourke, the losing Texas Senate candidate who bootstrapped his way into becoming a losing presidential candidate, had a message for refugees who had come to America: Your new country is a hellhole. The former congressman told a roundtable of refugees and immigrants in Nashville, Tenn., last week: ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More
Sports

We All Wanted to Love the Women’s Soccer Team

For the first time in my life, I did not root for an American team. Whatever the sport, I have always rooted American. And if those who called in to my radio show were representative of my audience, many millions of Americans made the same sad choice. It takes a lot for people like me not to root for an ... Read More
U.S.

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More