It’s wrong, of course, to revel in the misfortune of others. I nonetheless laughed aloud when I read what the editors of the New York Times imagine is a heart-rending tale of several Obamacare supporters who, having ignored years of conservative warnings about the inevitability of premium increases under Obamacare, now lament the financial difficulties they face due to the high cost of health coverage. It would be easier to feel sympathy for these people if they admitted they were wrong about the “Affordable Care Act.” But progressives don’t do that. Instead, they blame President Trump and the GOP.
The author of the piece takes us to that vortex of progressive virtue, Charlottesville, Virginia, and attempts to tug on our heart strings with the stories of people like Sara Stovall. Stovall, who works for a small software company, provides a predictably rote explanation for her personal travails: “I believe in the Affordable Care Act; it worked for me under the Obama administration.… But it’s not working as it was supposed to. It’s being sabotaged, and I feel like a pawn.” Stovall is indeed a pawn, but she isn’t being played by the President or the GOP. She has been duped by Donald Trump’s predecessor and the Democrats.
Seven years ago conservatives predicted that Obamacare’s provisions, particularly those involving community rating and essential health benefits, would force insurers to raise premiums. But progressives wrote these predictions off as the ravings of racist Republicans who hated Obamacare because it was the “signature domestic achievement” of our first African-American president. They actually believed former President Obama when he said that “reform” would reduce premiums by 3,000 percent. Most adults smelled a rat when he talked like that, but progressives tend to have a rather childlike view of the world.
Their reward for ignoring the grown-ups has been a series of premium increases. Progressive self-delusion notwithstanding, 2018 is not the first year in which Obamacare rates spiked. In fact, as Avik Roy points out at Forbes, “The most profound hikes took place in 2014, Obamacare’s first year, when the health law’s thicket of insurance regulations drove up the cost of coverage by an average of 49%.” And premiums have gone up every year since. It should be obvious, even to a progressive, that neither President Trump nor the GOP could have caused those increases. But the Times tale of woe continues with Ian Dixon, who implies otherwise:
If one word captures all this, it’s ‘helpless.’ There’s rage and anger and all that stuff in there, too. Any reasonable person would agree that this should not be happening. And there’s no one to go talk to about it. There’s no hope that this is going to get fixed.
Dixon, who can be seen gazing pensively into the middle distance at the top of the online version of the article, appears to have been suckered by Nancy Pelosi’s hilarious claim that Obamacare was an entrepreneurial bill: “I would not be an entrepreneur if it were not for Obamacare.” He develops mobile apps, according to the Times, but this experiment in entrepreneurship has evidently taught him very little about how free market competition works. His premiums are going up because his insurer has abandoned his Obamacare exchange. And the only remaining insurer, Optima, is taking advantage of its monopoly by jacking up the rates.
Instead of the hotbed of competition promised by former President Obama and the Democrats, most Obamacare exchanges offer only one or two insurers. Obama’s “signature domestic achievement” has left Dixon with one. So, he can buy a plan featuring premiums of $3,158 a month and an annual deductible of $9,200. If he doesn’t like that, he can pay $2,500 per month in premiums and live with a deductible of $14,400. And what does Optima say about Dixon’s “rage”? Michael M. Dudley, its CEO says, “We share their pain.” The Times article doesn’t tell us if Mr. Dudley rubbed his hands together in glee and cackled.
What about Obamacare’s vaunted subsidies? The Democrats and the “news” media have been telling us that rate increases associated with the “Affordable Care Act” are not that big a deal because most enrollees will receive subsidies. Most reports put the percentage of unsubsidized enrollees at only 20 percent. Why don’t these people apply for subsidies? Well, subsidies aren’t available to a family of four with an annual income over $98,400. So, the Dixons and the Stovalls presumably have incomes in the low six figures. But Sara Stovall still wants a taxpayer subsidy, so she’s thinking about cutting back her hours to qualify:
Our premiums will triple to $3,000 a month, with a $12,000 deductible, and that is far, far out of reach for us.… We are not asking for free health insurance. All we want is a reasonable chance to buy it.
Is that really what health care reform was supposed to be about? So that people would be incentivized to work less in order to get their hands into the taxpayer’s pocket? I seem to remember promises about reducing costs, increasing access, and improving quality of care for all Americans. Like most of the public, I never believed that BS, but the Stovalls, the Dixons, and millions of other progressives did. Now it’s time to pay for their magical thinking. Yet they still don’t want to face this undeniable reality — they got punked. Obamacare is, and always was, a scam. It’s time to wake up and smell the fair trade coffee.