Opinion: Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Fred Upton in the San Jose Mercury News: President is California Dreamin' about Obamacare
President is California Dreamin' about Obamacare
By Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
June 7, 2013
California Dreamin', an iconic anthem from the '60s, has stood the test of time. But Friday, with the president scheduled to visit San Jose, it's also a fitting refrain for the White House's perception of Obamacare.
California has become the latest battleground over its effects. The sad truth about Obamacare's broken promises has been revealed, coupled with revelations of the rate shock that is on the horizon for millions of Americans.
Remember the president's promise that "if you like your current health care plan, you will be able to keep it?" Not true for millions, who are finding out they will lose their employer-sponsored coverage. Some labor unions are so upset that they are now urging full repeal.
Remember when Barack Obama was barnstorming the country promising his health care plan would lower family premiums by $2,500 a year? Sadly, the average family premium has grown by over $3,000 since those promises were first made in 2008.
With the bad news snowballing, Covered California -- the state's new health insurance exchange -- seemed to come to the rescue. Two weeks ago, Covered California announced a "home run" for consumers, proclaiming that insurance premium rates would remain steady if not decrease in 2014. However, a closer look told a different story, and multiple analyses soon emerged to suggest the state was comparing apples to oranges to grapefruit.
It turns out Covered California compared the future Obamacare individual market rates to current rates in the small group market. News reports indicated the average premium for individual plans last year was $177 a month while the average premium for a 2014 Obamacare plan would be $321 a month. That's an 81 percent increase.
The president is in San Jose today to embrace the questionable numbers put forward by Covered California as part of an Obamacare victory tour.
Any honest assessment of Obamacare has established that it will make health insurance much more expensive. Even Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged as much earlier this year, noting in his state budget that "large rate increases in the individual insurance market are likely". This is consistent with numerous studies commissioned by states, actuaries, and health plans.
A recent House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation shows Americans will pay shockingly more for health insurance. Examining documents from 17 leading health insurers, the committee found that consumers purchasing insurance on the individual market may average premium increases of nearly 100 percent with potential highs eclipsing 400 percent. Meanwhile, small businesses can expect premium increases of up to 50 percent, with potential highs over 100 percent.
It's not surprising that the savings are failing to materialize. The law requires you to buy a government-sanctioned insurance policy that covers the services Washington has determined you need. So it doesn't matter if you're a 21-year-old female, you're getting the same insurance as a 65-year-old male. Because the government has limited consumer choice and mandated that insurance cover nearly everything, costs are going up.
The other reason prices are climbing is that competition has failed to materialize. Last month it was revealed that three of the largest insurers in the United States--United, Aetna, and Cigna--would not participate in California's exchanges.
Rather than allowing a robust market, Covered California picked who would be allowed to make bids to participate in the Exchange. More than 32 interested plans were whittled down to only 13 allowed participants, with only two statewide plans. Furthermore, Covered California only allowed health plans to offer standard products created by the Exchange, prohibiting offering additional "alternative plans."
This is a trend. In New Hampshire it looks like only one health insurer will serve its Obamacare Exchange, while North Carolina will have two or three. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the District's insurance commissioner has accused the area's largest insurer of "gaming the system" for failing to offer many Obamacare plans.
While the president is California Dreamin' today, the Obamacare rate shock nightmare will soon be a reality across America.
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) serves as majority whip, and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6) chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee. They wrote this for this newspaper.
Read the column online here.