Lower costs? Improved access? Six years later, the Affordable Care Act still falls painfully short of these noble goals. Years after most of the ACA's “goodies” have been implemented, public opinion is still against the law. A recent Rasmussen poll found 54% of likely voters view the law unfavorably compared to 43% with a favorable opinion.
Here are six reasons Pennsylvanians won’t be blowing kazoos for this anniversary.
- Higher Costs – Raise your hand if you're paying more—lots more—for insurance. You aren't imagining it: Pennsylvania insurers asked for approval to hike premiums up to 58 percent for 2015 exchange plans. One-third of insurers were granted double-digit rate increases. In southeast Pennsylvania alone, more than 171,000 adults had trouble finding an affordable exchange plan. For Pennsylvanians who can afford insurance, average deductibles for gold, silver, and bronze plans rose by $254, or 17 percent, for 2016.
- Fewer Choices – In 2013, 14 carriers offered individual health plans to Pennsylvanians on the Obamacare exchange. Today, that number is just seven. Most counties have four or fewer providers.
- Lower Reimbursements = Lower Quality – After announcing $500 million in losses in 2015, Highmark cut provider reimbursement rates. Philadelphia will soon lose an ambulance provider serving major area health systems thanks to unsustainably low Medicaid reimbursements. This means less individual patient attention and/or reduced access to care.
- About Those Tax Credits – For the second consecutive year, most tax filers who received Obamacare credits received too much and now owe the government hundreds of dollars. The average bill? Almost $580 per person for 2015.
- More Expensive ER Visits – Despite promises of less emergency room use, ER visits are up: 47 percent of ER physicians noted a slight increase, while 28 percent reported significant increases.
- Your Health or Your Job – As everyone now knows, if you like your plan, that doesn't mean you can keep it. Seth Maurer, a 29-year-old landscaper, lost his plan when Obamacare deemed it substandard. In Adams County, 63-year-old George Krichten, cut his work hours to avoid massive premiums. And business owners Jeffrey and Holly Wilbur ended group insurance for their employees after the costs became unaffordable. These aren't random examples—my own colleagues have written about losing their coverage and seeing their parents and friends lose coverage.
Today's health insurance system limits choices and hides prices. Costs will go down when patients are free to choose what's covered by their insurance and compare prices for medical services. Six years is more than enough time to prove fixing American health care requires less, not more, government.