Critical Condition

The Sebelius Deceit

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hopes you will believe her and not your own eyes, as she pens an op-ed in the Washington Post deceptively entitled, “The Affordable Care Act, helping Americans curb health-care costs.”

Health costs are rising, as we all can see, and independent analysts confirm they will accelerate under Obamacare.

Nonetheless, Sebelius claims that if we will just be patient, Obamacare will help lower health costs “in three ways: by increasing insurance-market competition, assisting those who can’t afford coverage, and tackling the underlying cost of medical care.”

The law is doing exactly the opposite, of course. The Congressional Budget Office projects that a family purchasing its own insurance will pay $2,100 more a year for a policy under Obamacare than they would have paid if the law had not passed. The president repeatedly promised the American people that he would cut a typical family’s premium $2,500 a year before the end of his first term. That misses the mark by $4,600 a year.

Costs already are rising faster than they did before the law was enacted in March 2010. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that premiums for a family policy topped $15,000 a year in 2011, increasing an average of $1,300 in the last year — three times faster than the year before.

A number of factors contribute to rising health-care costs, but the mandates, taxes, and regulations in the health-care law are accelerating the trend. The premium increases reflect the law’s early provisions, such as “free” preventive care and adding “children” up to age 26 to their parents’ policies. Consumers may like these features, but they come at a cost.

The many Obamacare mandates to come will raise premiums even further. The $500 billion in new taxes in the law will further fuel premium increases, including a new tax on health insurance that took effect January 1.

Analysts at the Congressional Budget Office estimate that the average policy for those who get health insurance through the workplace will cost $20,000 a year for a family of four by the year 2016. And obtaining health insurance will not be optional, since everyone will be required to have coverage or pay a fine. Yes, there would be subsidies, but they would be financed by higher taxes, cuts to Medicare, and, most likely, more deficit spending.

Facts are stubborn things. Health insurance is consuming a bigger share of employer budgets, preempting pay raises and pushing higher costs onto employees.

The American people know their health costs are rising, despite Secretary Sebelius’s claims to the contrary, and Obamacare is making it worse.

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