The official title of President Barack Obama's signature health care bill is a misnomer. It is called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
It was supposed to be a panacea. We were told it would bring health care insurance premiums down significantly. It didn't. We were told it would bring medical costs down, too. It didn't. It was supposed to help the poor most especially. It didn't.
The poor used to get their health care for free. They were uninsured, so they paid no insurance premiums. And because they were poor, the hospitals and doctors wrote off their medical care expenses.
No more. With the federal subsidies, they may not have to pay much for their medical insurance, but it's money they didn't pay before. And they are unlikely to get their costs written off when they do go to the doctor or the hospital because, after all, they have insurance. Worse, that insurance won't help them until rather late in the year because of its high deductibles.
So they get to pay for their health care, on their own, after paying for the insurance that's not helping them. The problem is severe enough that even Newsmax can see it.
After paying premiums, many low- and middle-income patients still face high costs when trying to use their coverage. There's growing concern that the value of a health insurance card is being eaten away by rising deductibles, the amount of actual medical costs that patients pay each year before coverage kicks in.How bad is it? A Families USA study cited in the Newsmax article found that "one-quarter of the people with individual health insurance policies went without care in 2014 because they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs. The study singled out high deductibles." A Commonwealth Fund study, also cited in the Newsmax article, notes that at least 15 million had problems with medical bills or medical debt and half of them were in this condition due to high deductibles alone.
That's bad. It's so bad that Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), one of the most liberal Democrats in the Congress, says
"We've got some 17 million more people covered ... but they can't access the care they seem to be entitled to. It costs too much to use the care. That's the deceptive part about it."There it is. Whatever anyone thought before the bill was passed, the promises of Obamacare have turned out to be deceptive. Obamacare is a failure at virtually everything that was claimed for it in advance. Now even the most liberal, Obamacare's biggest supporters, are being forced to admit its failings. That's a big downside to "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it." It got passed, we see what's in it, and we don't like it.
And note the figures. Advocates claim Obamacare has given insurance to 17 million more people. But at least 15 million can't afford to use it.
One more thing: The White House and its supporters are making mutually contradictory statements about health care costs. Through the White House-aligned Center for American Progress, as noted in that same Newsmax article, they claim a long-term pause in the rise of health care costs as a result of Obamacare, but at the same time they claim employers have been shifting their higher medical costs onto their employees. They say "employers have been shifting a disproportionate burden of healthcare costs onto workers" and "employees and their families have not shared in the benefits of a prolonged lull in medical inflation."
Long-term pause? Prolonged lull? That's not what we see in the news reports. We have seen continuing significant increases in health care costs, including the rising deductibles mentioned in the quotation above from that same Newsmax article. And it's getting worse. In fact, the latest Consumer Price Index reports identify for January 2015 this year the largest rise in its medical care index since January 2007. And if the claim about employers were true, the increases in employees' medical insurance costs would be higher than the increases for those with Obamacare insurance probably much higher. But the opposite is the case, according to the news stories. In fact, in many cases the Obamacare premiums look to be increasing at twice the rate of the employer-provided plans. (UPDATE: It's really even worse than that!) It's no wonder the White House and the Center for American Progress don't want to talk about that.
UPDATE: Investors Business Daily notes that "while ObamaCare promised access to insurance, it didn't promise access to health care." That health care is now less accessible and less affordable. In other words, you can get insurance (and you are required to do so) but it won't help.