One of the promised benefits of ObamaCare was that it would “bend the healthcare cost curve down.” Few of us believed that would be the case. It’s proving to be another ObamaLie. From 2009 to 2013 the U.S. did see a reduction in the growth of healthcare spending — not a reduction in spending, some relatively good news nonetheless. But Obama and Obamacrats who gave us ObamaCare shouldn’t take a victory lap. Much of that slowdown in spending growth was caused by the recession and its long tail. And anyway, these trends predate the passage of ObamaCare.
That said, what is the major reason for the reduction in overall health spending between 2009 and 2013 (the last year for which we have meaningful data)? Would you believe stabilized prescription drug prices? I realize “combating the high cost of prescription drugs” is a perennial talking point for politicians seeking office, but the fact remains that prescription drug costs from 2009 to 2013 held steady and that’s one of the major causes of slower growth in national health spending overall. It’s important to note that this happened because of complex market forces and not because of cost controls from the federal government.
But healthcare costs are up. We feel it in our premiums, which were supposed to go down. This is happening because ObamaCare has utterly failed to control the insurance companies, which Obama told America would be held “accountable” under his health care law — another ObamaLie. One of the goals of ObamaCare was to create the so-called exchanges — in which insurance companies would compete for customers, who would be mandated to purchase their products. That competition was supposed to improve access to healthcare and contain healthcare costs.
It hasn’t worked out that way. One way insurance companies limit access by restricting the numbers of doctors and hospitals in a coverage network. Still, one could say, because competition, if you don’t like one insurance company’s plan, you could move on to another company’s plan. Not really. There is significantly less competition in the ObamaCare exchanges than was promised. This reached its comical climax in 2013 when only one insurance carrier offered up a plan under ObamaCare in New Hampshire. An option of one does not create competition.
This problem is guaranteed to become exponentially worse now that ObamaCare has reached its inevitable conclusion: Health insurance companies merging to corner the market and maximize profits. I’m all for profits and a free market. But ObamaCare is far from free market economics in action.
The insurance companies, of course, like where this is headed. Perhaps that’s why they appear to be all-in behind a Hillary Clinton presidency.