When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, was enacted, Americans were promised a healthcare system in which insurance companies would be held accountable and patients would have access to affordable care. Six years later, however, the reality has proven to be quite different-a plan that was supposed to mend our nation’s fractured healthcare system has driven up healthcare costs, decreased market competition, and ultimately harmed patients.
Last week, UnitedHealth—the nation’s largest health insurer—announced that it expects to lose more than $500 million through plans they offered under the ACA in 2016. Just yesterday, Anthem came out with disappointing fourth quarter earnings as well, citing Obamacare plans. Despite an increase in enrollment, in November 2015 UnitedHealth officials were in talks of pulling out of the ACA exchanges in 2017, citing losses of over $425 million. As a result, UnitedHealth and other large insurers are narrowing networks and raising premiums to cut costs, gaining profits for themselves while hurting consumers.
Sadly, this is just one example of how Obamacare’s burdensome regulations have resulted in disastrous consequences. Insurers, who are reporting millions in losses from their ACA plans, are merging to spread fixed costs over larger pools of patients. Between the mergers and the numerous state co-op failures (12 out of the 23 established under the ACA have shut down), competition in the health insurance marketplace has plummeted and costs for insurance continues to rise. In 2015, the average deductible for single coverage for the most common ACA plan (a silver plan) was $2,927 and $6,010 to cover a family. This year, premiums are projected to increase further and insurance companies are not making things easier on patients.
Consumers might see health insurance companies extending “proactive measures” to make up for their financial losses from the ACA exchanges, but these proactive strategies for insurers mean the reverse for patients and consumers. Simply put, insurance companies are narrowing their networks and increasing costs to discourage consumers to sign up for their plans. The intent of Obamacare was to hold insurance companies accountable, but it’s done the opposite by allowing insurers to take advantage of this unworkable legislation and increase their profits at the expense of affordable care for patients.
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Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at Townhall.com, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere.