The truth is hard to come by with Obamacare. Americans are still reeling from the news that premiums will climb by double digits. Adding pain to misery, about one in five people will have just one insurer from which to choose. (Is this really choice?)
Yet President Obama continues to praise his law. Recently he gave a 49-minute speech surrounded by enthusiastic college students, the demographic coveted by advocates of the Affordable Care Act. Most of them probably have no idea the law’s individual mandate was aimed at them. The plan was to force the young and healthy to pay sky-high premiums to cover the costs of people with pre-existing conditions.
Coverage for unaffordable premiums and deductibles does not represent “financial security.” Furthermore, coverage does not equal care.
In 2012, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandate unconstitutional, allowing the young to escape. The law has been in trouble ever since, and the drama continues into 2017 with rising premiums, low enrollment, shuttered co-ops, and major health plans pulling out.
Obama told the students that Americans “don’t know that they’re benefiting from Obamacare.” Then he delivered one tall tale after another to boost his claim.
Here are just eight, with a few countervailing facts:
1.) Obama: “Because of the law, you now have free preventive care. Insurance companies have to offer that in whatever policy they sell. Because of the law, you now have free checkups for women. Because of the law, you get free mammograms.”
False. These are mandated benefits paid for through higher premiums, whether you want them or not. In addition, Health Affairs reports that 80 percent of preventive services add more to medical costs than they save. As medical costs rise, premiums rise.
2.) Obama: “The majority of Americans do not — let me repeat — do not get health care through the Affordable Care Act.”
Misleading. Every American has been impacted by the ACA, whether they realize it or not. Although a majority of Americans have not gone on the exchange to purchase Obamacare, the law impacts all policies and premiums.
3.) Obama: “For most Americans, the Affordable Care Act … has not affected your coverage — except to make it stronger.”
False. The ACA has affected every kind of coverage, from Medicare (e.g., a $500 billion cut and lower payments to doctors) to employer plans (e.g., employer mandate and benefits mandate) to the rising cost and limited availability of individual plans. For example, the law prohibits catastrophic coverage past the age of 29.
4.) Obama: “Now, some people may say, ‘Well, I’ve seen my copays go up, or my networks have changed.’ But these are decisions that are made by your employers. It’s not because of Obamacare.”
False. Employers are impacted by the employer mandate; taxes on pharmaceutical corporations, insurers, and medical devices; essential health benefit mandates; higher premiums due to the ban on charging sick people more than healthy; the cost of insurer losses from Obamacare; and the pending 40 percent “Cadillac tax.”
5.) Obama: “The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do: It gave us affordable health care.”
False. Even Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a proponent of Obamacare, said, “The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.”
6.) Obama: “[I]f your premium is going up, it’s not because of Obamacare … It’s not because of any policy of the Affordable Care Act that the rates are going up.”
False. The 2,700 pages of the law — more than 20,000 pages of regulations, mandates, taxes, and fees, and three years of failed risk-based subsidies for insurers — have everything to do with rising rates.
7.) Obama: “So because of this law, because of Obamacare, another 20 million Americans now know the financial security of health insurance.”
False. Coverage with unaffordable premiums and deductibles does not represent “financial security.” Furthermore, coverage does not equal care. Due to narrow networks and managed care controls, many patients face delays and denials. Deductibles have grown six times faster than wages since 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
8.) Obama: “The net result is that never in American history has the uninsured rate been lower than it is today. Never.”
Define “insured.” A lower percentage of Americans have private insurance today than in 2007, The Weekly Standard reports. In fact, if the percentage hadn’t decreased, 3.8 million more people would be privately insured today. Instead, a majority of the 20 million enrollees are enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid is not private insurance; it’s a government program paid for by taxpayers.
You’d like to think your president would tell the truth, but that’s not the case with Obamacare. So what will the next president actually do?
Trump says he’ll repeal Obamacare, but he needs Congress to agree. That said, he could deter it unilaterally with regulation rescissions and executive orders.
Hillary says she’ll “fix” the law and add a “public option,” a government health plan that would unfairly compete with private health plans. She, too, needs an agreeable Congress.
Whoever wins will have a huge impact on the choices and rights Americans have over the next four years and beyond.
Obama told his young audience that Obamacare is “just a first step” in health care reform. That was probably true — but the president’s term is almost up, and Americans don’t have to settle for Obamacare or single-payer or government-run health care.
So — whom will America trust with America’s health care future?
Twila Brase, R.N., named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Health Care,” is co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a national patient-centered health freedom organization in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also co-founded a patient-focused initiative called The Wedge of Health Freedom.