Unfortunately, not a word was highlighted about health care in previous night’s face-off between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Last time I checked American people were far more concerned about health care rather than they were over tangential problems like birtherism or whether Donald Trump has issued his tax returns as the health insurance premiums have continued to increase faster than worker wages. So hopefully the radio silence on such a crucial problem will be rectified in future debates.
Obamacare sustains to be a slow-motion train wreck. As health insurance premiums have sustained to increase faster than worker wages under Obamacare. An analysis by Charles Gaba (an ACA supporter) indicates that average premium rise in the non-group market will average 24 percent for the year of 2017. Previous month’s decision by Aetna (the nation’s 3rd largest insurer) to dump 80 percent of its Obamacare subscribers for the 2017 year came on the heels of the decision by UnitedHealth (the nation’s greatest health insurer) to likewise cut back hugely on its participation in the Obamacare exchanges (three states in 2017 vs. 34 states this year). Still another of the nation’s “big 5″ health insurers, Humana, will provide coverage in merely 156 counties in 2017, 88% fewer than this year.
Regrettably, Obamacare enthusiasts can’t look to the employer market for health coverage for good news. As in the last fall, there was no evidence that Obamacare had slowed down the amount of health insurance premium increases confronted by workers relative to the rise in wages. Sadly, the most recent version of the KFF/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey confirms that this trend has sustained. For family health insurance policies–the ones most difficult for employees to afford in the 1st place–premiums continue to increase faster than worker wages.
So it probably should not be a shocking to learn that previous month a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 20.9 percent of manufacturing firms in the state claimed they were employing fewer employees due to Obamacare, while 16.8 percent of respondents in the service sector said the same.
Obamacare’s fiercest defenders dismiss these critiques as overblown, noting that the threat of being uninsured is the lowest it is been in decades and that Medicaid expansion has been very victorious in acquiring this. But this Pollyannish view neglects the brutal reality that the per enrollee cost of the Medicaid expansion is already 49 percent higher than originally projected by the Department of Health and Human Services just 1 year ago. Medicaid already had perverse incentives for states to waste money and crowd out other priorities like education and criminal justice. The Obamacare Medicaid expansion efficaciously put those perverse incentives on steroids, as a latest Mercatus Center analysis demonstrates in good detail.
In short, Obamacare is failing miserably across a variation of dimensions. Still Hillary Clinton’s answer is to double-down on Obamacare and extend it to more people–involving illegal immigrants! Donald Trump’s answer is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something much better–however he hasn’t been very good about elaborating what such a replacement plan may look like. In light of these policy differences, Obamacare is a hugely relevant campaign problem to employees and taxpayers alike.
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