• January 30, 2023

Democrats’ deceptive rhetoric on Obamacare prices

 Democrats’ deceptive rhetoric on Obamacare prices

 

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Americans have until Jan. 15 to secure healthcare coverage through the Obamacare exchanges. This year’s open enrollment period has resulted in more people signing up than ever before.

More than 11.5 million people have enrolled in the exchanges as of Dec. 15, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s an 18% increase from the same time last year. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra boasted that the “unprecedented results” were the result of “unprecedented investments” in the program. Those “investments” include billions of dollars worth of new subsidies that have lowered what people have to pay out of pocket for coverage. But those subsidies simply mask the underlying cost of coverage, which has been rising for years. Ultimately, future taxpayers will foot the bill.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March 2021, Democrats made Obamacare subsidies more generous and extended them to enrollees making more than 400% of the federal poverty level — about $111,000 for a family of four — for the first time. Those expanded subsidies were scheduled to sunset at the end of 2022, but the Inflation Reduction Act extended them until Dec. 31, 2025. Last year alone, these more generous subsidies cost taxpayers $30 billion — about 50% more than the Congressional Budget Office originally estimated.

Much of that cash was spent on people who were doing just fine without the federal help. The CBO projected that 75% of the spending on new subsidies would go to people who already had health insurance. That includes disproportionately wealthy, already-insured individuals who rightly couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy an exchange plan on someone else’s dime.

In other words, the “unprecedented” number of signups during this open enrollment period isn’t a function of the affordability or quality of Obamacare plans. It’s a function of Democrats paying just about anyone to sign up.

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Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is  False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All  (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

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