By Katie Kieffer
My healthcare premium jumps 179% in 2017—and my young and healthy friends are in the same boat: at this rate, we’ll go broke before we break a bone.
Why are my friends—even some who never discuss politics—complaining about rising healthcare premiums? And why are young entrepreneurs telling me they’re holding off from buying healthcare entirely?
Because ObamaCare is a scam—especially if you’re young. Young people may not understand the politics behind ObamaCare, but they know their employer is suddenly taking an extra $70; or $100—or even more—from their monthly paycheck. They also hear their employer—and their friends’ employers—saying that their shrinking paychecks are due to higher healthcare premiums.
In 2015, America’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate 2.6 percent. In comparison, our healthcare spending grew 5.8 percent—an eight-year high—according to a new report from the Obama administration’s own Department of Health and Human Services.
“The report was disappointing news for the outgoing Obama administration … [which] had sought to credit its health care overhaul for taming costs,” reported the Associated Press. Our nation spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare in 2015, but the AP emphasizes that “the vast share of that money is spent caring for the sickest patients.”
President-elect Donald Trump’s most daunting task will be beginning the process of extricating government interference in healthcare. Young people must support him in these efforts for the sake of their physical and monetary health.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
“Don’t worry, you’ll get a subsidy!” is the promise young people routinely hear from Obama administration officials urging them to join the Health Care exchanges. The reality is that anyone making over $47,520 annually does not qualify for federal subsidies. $47,520 is above the poverty line, but certainly not “rich” or even very comfortable. Ask any young person trying to make it on $47,520 in a high-tax state like California, Minnesota or New York.
Let me be clear: no young person voting for Obama in 2008 thought they were signing up for this.
Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres asked Obama about his plan to reform health care during the February 2008 Democratic primaries. Candidate Obama said he would not push for a health insurance mandate: “If things were that easy [requiring all Americans to buy health insurance], I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”
And now you know Burger King doesn’t sell America’s biggest whoppers.
ObamaCare eliminated risk pools. “Basically, a 25-year-old CrossFit athlete is now chipping in to cover in an equal share of America’s healthcare bill as the 60-year-old guy who is 100 pounds overweight, has Type 2 diabetes, and smokes a pack a day,” explains Mitch Berg, host of the eponymous “Mitch Berg Show” on AM 1280 The Patriot.
Today, instead of a system where people pay more for health insurance if they present a greater health risk, we have what Berg calls a “cost sharing system.” And it’s failing. Everyone. Both the overweight smoker who created his own mess and the individual who was born with a preexisting condition and genuinely needs help.
Because health insurance is no longer true insurance. Doctors are overworked and overregulated while patients have little-to-no responsibility for their own health.
States like New Jersey report rising visits to the emergency room—leading to “overcrowding, higher health costs and longer wait times.” Americans increasingly use the ER as a catchall for minor issues for which they should be paying for out-of-pocket or lifestyle issues that can only be resolved by adjusting daily habits. Hence, as the New Jersey Courier-Post reports, we have situations like this: a patient visits the ER around 15.4 times per year and racks up $4.4 million in costs over five years—of which New Jersey hospitals were only reimbursed $386,000.
Unsustainable trajectory? No doubt.
Insurance big-hitters are dropping out or backing away from the ObamaCare exchanges, which makes it very hard for young people to take President Obama up on his promises of “more affordable” healthcare premiums and to “keep their plan” and “keep their doctor” if they “like” them.
Texas, for example, has the nation’s highest number of uninsured. However Cigna, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna all announced plans to exit the ObamaCare exchanges in Texas in October. Humana subsequently announced plans to reduce coverage on the exchanges. Why? Insurance companies can’t pull a healthy profit while subsidizing so many new mandated offerings. In 2016 alone, UnitedHealth Group anticipates losing $850 million on the exchanges.
The Lone Star State isn’t a loner. In the state of Minnesota, premiums have risen—on average—more than 50 percent. Minnesota’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross, dropped policies for 103,000 subscribers when it pulled back from President Obama’s so-called “marketplace.”
Insurance companies have no one to blame but themselves for this mess, as they sold their souls to the current administration in hopes of making handsome profits. But that’s in the past. Looking forward, Trump’s administration must work quickly and courageously to return true freedom to the health insurance marketplace.
It doesn’t help anyone if 91 percent of Americans now have health insurance—only to have the price of that insurance rise at a historic pace. Many previously-uninsured Americans will lose coverage again. As the Associated Press put it earlier this month: “the problem of costs has re-emerged.”
If you’re still looking for a “stocking stuffer” for your state senator, consider sending them this column. We need Republicans in congress to support President-elect Trump and stand up to the Democrats and the media when they try to stonewall healthcare reform.