Trump Policies Push Obamacare Rates Down

The Democrats and the media have repeatedly accused President Trump and the GOP Congress of “sabotaging” Obamacare, claiming that changes to the “Affordable Care Act” would result in unprecedented premium hikes in 2019. In July, for example, Nancy Pelosi made the following claim: “Their latest assault on health care will significantly increase premiums for millions of hard-working American families across the nation.” Meanwhile, ever eager to disseminate Democratic propaganda, “news” outlets like the Los Angeles Times have published stories with tendentious titles such as the following: “The costs of Trump’s sabotage of Obamacare already are showing up in rate hikes.”

It goes without saying that the Democrats and the “news” media were deliberately attempting to mislead the public. In reality, 2019 will be the first year ever in which Obamacare premiums will decline. In 12 states, according to Obamacare.net, the average rate charged by insurers selling plans through federal and state exchanges will actually be lower than in 2018. The largest cut will be in New Hampshire, where the average premium will drop by 13.47 percent. The smallest reduction will be in Wyoming, where the decrease will be about 0.25 percent. In the 38 remaining states, premium hikes will be far less than they have been since Obamacare was enacted. The average increase nationwide will be around 4 percent.

To put this in perspective, the average premium for plans sold through federal exchanges doubled during the first four years we were subjected by the “Affordable Care Act.” And that was the average, meaning that individuals in many states were hit much harder. In Alaska, Alabama, and Oklahoma, premiums tripled. Hilariously, the Democrats and their accomplices in the media attempted to assign retroactive blame for these increases on President Trump, who wasn’t in office during the period in question, and the GOP Congress because they have put paid to the worst of the law’s provisions. The following appeared in U.S. News & World Report and denounces Trump for obeying a ruling by a federal judge:

Perhaps the most drastic way that the Trump administration is sabotaging American’s health insurance is by refusing to commit to reimbursing health plans for the cost-sharing reduction payments they make to lower out-of-pocket costs for their lowest income members. Insurance companies are currently in the process of determining their rates for the 2018 plan year, and without a guarantee from the administration that they will receive the payments they are owed, they will factor that added cost into their premiums for next year.

This was published in May of 2017, a year after a federal judge ruled these very cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments unconstitutional. In other words, President Trump is somehow acting in bad faith for obeying a ruling handed down 8 months before he became President. The column also denounces the GOP Congress for making the “risk corridor” program budget neutral. This was a corporate welfare scheme concocted by the Democrats to prop up insurers that managed to lose money on a product that the consumer was required by law to purchase. Not coincidentally, this piece was written by a former insurance company CEO who was fired for accomplishing that seemingly impossible feat.

All of this balderdash notwithstanding, any observer with a modicum of literacy in economics will be able to see that next year’s decrease in Obamacare premiums can be directly attributed to the effective repeal of the individual mandate by Congress, the authorization of association health plans by the Trump administration, and the President’s reversal of his predecessor’s illegal restrictions on limited duration health coverage. President Trump signaled the insurance industry that these changes were coming with an executive order on his first day in office. And, while the Democrats and the media failed to grasp its significance, the insurers understood that competition was coming sooner rather than later.

Consequently, they rammed through one final rate robbery while HHS began working on new rules that would give consumers greater choice and Congress worked on a budget provision that would eliminate the outrageous tax-penalty for failing to buy health insurance. The insurers then began planning for a new reality — one in which Americans wouldn’t be forced to buy their product and cheaper alternatives to Obamacare would be available outside the exchanges. This is why the rates will stop skyrocketing in 2019. That’s the beauty of allowing free market competition in our health care system. It drives prices down. If this is what the Democrats and the media call “sabotage,” beat me harder baby.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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