Painful Year for Pennsylvanians on the Obamacare Exchange

Today marks the fifth open enrollment season for Obamacare's insurance exchange. As predicted, premiums continue to skyrocket. In fact, Pennsylvania's premium increases are among the highest in the nation. High prices aren't the only bad news, competition on the exchange has plummeted with only two insurance providers in Pittsburgh and one in Philadelphia.

What went wrong? Some proponents of the ACA are blaming insurance companies, saying it's their fault rates were . . . wait for it . . . set too low in 2013.

The real culprit is a faulty system. Limiting insurance companies' ability to adjust premiums for age and allowing people to sign-up for insurance once they get sick, plus the slew of coverage mandateslike maternity care for single menset the exchanges up to fail.

Whether the exchanges collapse this year or in five years the real question is how to fix this mess. The answer lies in empowering consumers. Forget gold, silver, and bronze, consumers should be able to choose from a wide variety of insurance products, from bare bones coverage to zero out-of-pocket cost.

Price transparency is another essential ingredient. In the age of $1,000+ deductibles, patients need access to prices. Keeping them in the dark drives up the cost of care and creates unnecessary stress.

Obamacare isn't salvageable, but there are many alternative health care models that are working. States can work to protect innovations like direct primary care. This allows patients to pay a low monthly or yearly membership fee for all preventative and primary care needs. Fourteen states have passed laws to protect this form of care from Obamacare regulations. In addition, states can lead by example by rewarding their own employees for choosing high quality health care. New Hampshire saved more than $10 million by using a model called “right-to-shop.”

Health insurance costs can become affordable again if leaders are willing to scrap the Obamacare experiment and give patients real choice over their care.