On November 7, 2007, at a speech in Bettendorf, Iowa, then-candidate Obama said:
Every four years politicians come before you to talk about health care. You hear the same promises. And then you see the same results. Well it’s time to end the outrage of 47 million uninsured Americans. It’s time to finally do something about it.
Well, not much has changed since then. Four years later, the country has 48.6 million people without health insurance and a $1.68 trillion health care law that, if it even works as claimed, would still leave 30 million people without health care.
A USA Today editorial recently praised Obamacare for increasing the number of insured by 3.6 million. But those gains include 50.8 million people enrolled in Medicaid (2.3 million more than in 2010) and 46.9 million people enrolled in Medicare (2 million more than 2010). And under Obamacare, the number of people covered by government health care will continue to rise.
And for $1.68 trillion in taxpayer dollars, the number of uninsured will still be 30 million. You can almost hear the calls now for spending another $1 trillion to “finally put an end to the outrage of 30 million Americans lacking health insurance.”
A new Congressional Budget Office report points out that the cost of being uninsured under Obamacare will fall disproportionately on the backs of middle- and lower-income families. Of the $8 billion per year the federal government will collect from the individual mandate, more than 70 percent will be paid for by those taxpayers earning below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (or those earning less than $90,000 for a family of four).
Some predict that the number of uninsured will likely continue to rise as the price of purchasing government-approved health insurance will outpace the penalty for staying uninsured.
Before Obamacare, the government was already spending over a trillion on health care through Medicare and Medicaid and by extending health care tax benefits for certain people. Maybe it’s time to stop spending more money and instead think about spending the current dollars more effectively.
The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan does just that. It recognizes that the government can’t force or micromanage people into health coverage. Instead, the best approach to reducing the number of uninsured is to provide the right incentives—not penalties—that create a landscape for competition and innovation that will draw people in by offering plans that they want and can afford.