The Corner

The Failed Promises Of Obamacare

Avik Roy gave us a good summary this morning of how Obamacare is failing, so far, to slow health-care costs, as the president promised it would. Unfortunately, that’s not the only unmet promise of the health-care law. As Jennifer Haberkorn and Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico report, the Obamacare that is on its way to being implemented and the result it will deliver is very different “from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation.” Here is their list of failed Obamacare promises:

  • “Millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage.”
  • “Many workers at small businesses won’t get a choice of insurance plans right away.”
  • “Large employers won’t need to provide insurance for another year.”
  • “Far more states than expected won’t run their own insurance marketplaces.”
  • “And a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage.”
  • “The administration also decided that the CLASS Act — a long-term care program championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — was financially unsustainable.”
  • “A consumer protection — the limit on out-of-pocket health costs for individuals — was pushed back to 2015 after the administration heard that insurers and employers needed more time to comply.”
  • And in most states, workers at small businesses will have only one plan to choose from in the health exchanges next year, not the multiple choices they were supposed to have.
There are a few things missing from that rap sheet, such as the promise that the law would reduce the deficit. It won’t. And, of course, this is on top of the other negative consequences of the law, such as the move by many large employers to switch to part-time workers rather than keep or hire full-time employees.

I should add that we can expect that more difficulties with the implementation of the law will come to light in the near future. Here’s just one more: USA Today reported yesterday on the ”family glitch,” which ”threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.” Here’s the explanation:

Congress defined “affordable” as 9.5% or less of an employee’s household income, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the “error” was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn’t provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.

That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all.

“We saw this two-and-a-half years ago and thought, ‘Has anyone else noticed this?’” said Kosali Simon, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University who specializes in health economics. “Everyone said, ‘No, no. You must be wrong.’ But we weren’t, and that’s going to leave a lot of people out.”

The issue has recently received attention, especially after former president Bill Clinton highlighted it in a recent speech.

“The family glitch is definitely a drafting error that Congress made that needs to be fixed,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “But that seems unlikely.”

This is just one of many problems that came to light after the law was adopted.

The bottom line is that Nancy Pelosi was right that we would find out what was in the law after if was passed, but so far the discovery process hasn’t meant much good news to the American people. Obviously, the administration will continue to blame Republicans and their opposition to the law for everything that goes wrong with it. It would be more productive, however, not to mention novel, if the president would acknowledge that he too is responsible for what is going on and failed to forsee many of the bad consequences resulting from the adoption of the law, and explain to us how he is planning on fixing what’s wrong with Obamacare.



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