This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust released a major survey on employer-sponsored health benefits in the United States. Among the many important findings in the report, one fact stood out: Americans are paying more and more for their health insurance every year, a concerning trend that is only getting worse under Obamacare. The report explains that:
- The cost of insurance is increasingly unaffordable to American families. The cost of health insurance in the United States has grown significantly over the last decade. The Kaiser survey shows that the average annual premium for a family in 2011 is 31 percent higher than it was in 2006, and 113 percent higher than in 2001. This year marks the first year that the cost of family coverage will exceed $15,000, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Anna Wilde Matthews.
Small businesses especially struggle to offer health benefits to their employees because of cost. According to Kaiser, 55 percent of small firms surveyed that did not offer coverage cited the high cost of insurance as the primary reason.
- Obamacare did not “bend the cost curve.” While rising health care costs continue to impact American families, the 2010 health care legislation did not alleviate the pain. Between 2009 and 2010, family premiums increased just 3 percent. But the increase from 2010 to 2011 was much larger at 9 percent. Average annual premiums for individuals grew 8 percent. According to the survey, “The average premium for single coverage in 2011 is $452 per month or $5,429 per year…The average premium for family coverage is $1,256 per month or $15,073 per year.”
- Instead, the new law is already increasing premiums… According to Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, Obamacare was responsible for between 1 and 2 percentage points, or approximately 20 percent, of the increase in premiums. Provisions of the law that have already gone into effect are driving up the cost of premiums, including requiring insurance plans to cover children up the age of 26 on their parents’ policies and requiring government-approved preventive care measures to be covered with zero cost sharing by all plans.
- …And it is on track to get far, far worse. Already-enacted provisions are just the beginning. Next week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will release its recommendations on what should and should not be covered under Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” package. If the IOM is as prescriptive as it was in its recommendations on womens’ preventive care, and the Department of Health and Human Services adheres fully to the recommendations, Americans will be required to carry generous levels of coverage or pay a penalty. This will mean even larger premium hikes than we’ve already seen. Other provisions will add even further to Americans’ premiums costs, including required limits on cost sharing and deductibles, elimination of annual and lifetime limits on health benefits, taxes on insurers and pharmaceutical companies—the list goes on.
Clearly, Obamacare won’t make insurance more affordable for individuals and families at all. Instead, it does the opposite. Reform that reduces health care costs for all Americans is possible, and the first step is repeal.