The Affordable Health Care Act; the law popularly known as Obamacare, could be the most misnamed piece of legislation in American history.
One insurance company; Highmark, has requested a 48% premium increase for some policies offered through Pennsylvania’s Obamacare exchange next year, Lancaster Online reported. The average Obamacare premium in Pennsylvania will increase by 12% next year.
To add insult to injury; some Vermont residents will see their Obamacare premiums increase by 44% in 2017, CNBC reported. The average 50-year old man in that state will pay $685 a month for health insurance; purchased through an Obamacare exchange, next year. That means the price tag will increase by $301.40 in just a year.
Nor was it just Vermont; the same premium will increase by 41.8% in Oklahoma, 22% in Oregon, 19% in Virginia, 18% in Maine and 18% in Maryland, CNBC noted. New York residents will pay 7% more, Indiana residents will pay 6% more, Washington State residents would pay 5% more and people in the District of Columbia will pay 9% more. Around 26% of Americans now live in areas where Obamacare premiums will increase by more than 15%.
Even those small price increases will hurt; the New York resident will now pay $492 a month; or $5,904 a year, for a basic Silver health insurance plan – purchased through Obamacare. That amount comes to more than 10% of the average US household income; which was $51,939 a year in 2015, for just one person. A couple would pay $11,808 a year; or nearly one fifth of their annual income, for insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act.
Most Americans Want Obamacare Repealed, Replaced with Single Payer
Prices like that explain why nearly 54% of Americans want to shift to a Single Payer-health insurance system, a Gallup Poll from mid-May discovered. The same poll also determined that nearly 75% of Democrats; and 41% of Republicans; want Single Payer. The same poll found that 51% of Americans; 54% of whom presumably support Single Payer, want Obamacare repealed.
Another reason why Americans hate Obamacare was revealed by a recent New York Times article. The Times discovered that many doctors and hospitals in Manhattan; refuse to take policies purchased through the New York State Obamacare Exchange.
Out of pocket costs for prescriptions in Obamacare plans were twice as high as costs for drugs in the typical employer provided health care plan, the journal Public Affairs concluded. Daniel Polksy, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, found that 41% of Obamacare exchanges had a narrow or very narrow selection of doctors.
If that was not bad enough; Obamacare plans covered 42% fewer cancer and heart specialists than regular employer plans. Other plans do not offer out of state coverage, meaning a New York resident who was hurt in a car accident in New Jersey might not be covered.
Doctors Want National Health Program
News reports like these are prompting calls for action; more than 2,000 doctors admitted that Obamacare did not go far enough in a paper in the American Journal of Public Health. The same doctors demanded a national single-payer system they dub the National Health Program.
“Our patients can’t afford care and don’t have access to the care they need, while the system is ever more wasteful, throwing away money on bureaucratic expenses and absurd prices from the drug companies,” David Himmelstein; a study author who is a professor in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, and a lecturer on medicine at Harvard Medical School told The Guardian.
The National Health Program would abolish private health insurance, deductibles and co-pays. Instead it would cover a visit to any doctor for any Americans. Himmelstein thinks such a system could be paid for with modest tax increases, because he believes two thirds of US healthcare is already funded by government.
“We would have to abolish the insurance companies, there is no way around that,” Himmelstein said.
Whether such a system is politically possible is unclear; because what Himmelstein proposes sounds a great deal like the system in Canada. The name also conjures up images of Britain’s much maligned and much loved National Health.
Hillary wants to Expand Medicare (Sort of)
Politicians are sold on Single Payer, but not necessarily on National Health. US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) has called for “Medicare for All.” Hillary Clinton now wants to extend Medicare to everybody over 50 or 55 years of age, The Times reported.
“I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” Mrs. Clinton said in Virginia on May 9. Clinton’s idea would be to allow more people to buy into Medicare.
Clinton provided few details about her plan; but some critics note it might be of little help because many people would not be able to afford to buy into Medicare. The plan could help older people; who tend pay around three times as much for health insurance as younger people. The plan could also lower premiums for younger people; because insurers would not have the expense of paying for more care for older people.
It looks as if Obamacare’s days are numbered; although the Affordable Care Act may achieve one of its goals, to usher in Single Payer Health Insurance in the United States. Ironically enough, the law would do that by failing; not by achieving its goal of expanding insurance and making healthcare affordable.