When President Barack Obama (D) and the then-Democratic Congress gave us the widely-reviled ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ in March 2010, there was a lot of high-minded talk about all the great things it would do for us. If proponents were to be believed, the health care reform bill would have lowered the cost of health insurance for Americans, reduced the number of uninsured, and allowed for people satisfied with their health insurance to keep it as-is.
Perhaps it has had some benefit for the uninsured Americans who have since decided to obtain health insurance; becoming insured has gotten easier with new limitations on the consideration of preexisting conditions. But those of us who had the good sense to have health insurance in the first place haven’t been so lucky. My family’s health insurance premiums have skyrocketed nearly fifty percent since the ‘Affordable’ Care Act passed. Our co-pays have gone up for office visits and prescriptions, and our out-of-pocket maximums have gone up. We aren’t alone, though perhaps we got hit harder than the average insured American. Stories abound of companies cutting back on health benefits and reducing coverage options for employees. Premiums have been sharply rising across the board, far above the rate of inflation.
Why is this happening? In large part, the rate hikes and policy changes can be attributed to new requirements and uncertainties associated with the 2010 ‘Affordable’ Care Act. The law includes an absurd requirement that children be permitted on their parents’ plans well into adulthood, required coverage for previously optionally-covered procedures, tight restrictions on future premium increases, and over-the-top limitations on the consideration of preexisting conditions (allowing people to sign up for insurance only when they get sick, effectively gaming the system). These measures, combined with the overall uncertainty about how the act will affect the industry, have increased the operating costs of insurance companies and, surprise, they are passing those costs on to you and me. The primary effect of the ‘Affordable’ Care Act on those of us who were insured like responsible adults is that we now have to pay more to get the same health coverage we’ve had all along—which means we have less money for economy-boosting purchases, savings, investments, and even charitable donations.
Let me be perfectly clear: America’s uninsured are overwhelmingly uninsured because they have made a free-will decision to spend their money on other things, or because they have chosen not to avail themselves of their Medicare/Medicaid entitlements. That is their decision to make . . . and those individuals bear sole responsibility for it. It’s not my job to bail them out any more than it was my job to bail out General Motors or AIG. Over eighty-five percent of Americans have made the prudent decision to obtain health insurance for themselves and their families, and we shouldn’t be punishing them for making good choices.