by Grace-Marie Turner
Obamacare is a gigantic shell game. Americans were promised that the Affordable Care Act would lower health costs by $2,500 a year for the average family, provide coverage for tens of millions more Americans, and do all of this while reducing the federal budget deficit. It would be accomplished through 2,800 pages of legislation, tens of thousands of pages of regulatory directives and an interlocking network of new federal mandates. Many Americans were skeptical that this unprecedented effort at government re-engineering could succeed. Their skepticism is justified.
Still, the Obama administration continues to try to convince us that all is well — most recently announcing that premiums are going to be lower than expected in the federally run exchanges.
But the administration is using as its baseline what the Congressional Budget Office expected health insurance to cost after the law went into effect — $2,100 a year more for an individual policy — versus prices that consumers experience in the real world.
Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has done an actual cost comparison “Here’s the bottom line,” he writes, “most people with average incomes will pay more under Obamacare for individually purchased insurance than they did before.”
He finds that Obamacare “will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.”
Here’s where the shell game comes in: the administration says that the actual numbers of the insurance aren’t important and what really matters is how much people will pay after the subsidies. But subsidies aren’t free. They are paid for through higher taxes or greater deficit spending. And these taxes are a dead weight on the economy that impede economic growth.
The dislocations are cascading through our economy. Millions of hourly workers are having their full-time jobs cut to part time, businesses are freezing hiring, spouses are losing coverage, major labor unions are calling for repeal and Obamacare’s premium taxes and other costs are driving up the cost of insurance for everyone.
This law is not ready for prime time. Congress should delay the law for a year and put together what both sides now know must be a bipartisan effort at reform that works with, rather than against, our economy.
Here’s a link to the whole New York Times exchange on Is Obamacare Working?
Posted on The New York Times: Room for Debate September 26, 2013