Surprise! Obamacare premiums are set to more than double come 2023 — affecting roughly 13 million Americans who receive subsidies on the health care exchanges. In addition to consistently rising costs that come with regulating choice and access, the lion’s share of the sticker shock this time around is because of a provision in the Biden administration’s $2 trillion pandemic-era spending bill.
Included in the legislation were enhanced and expanded health care subsidies for those on Obamacare exchanges. But to push it through Congress, the component was made temporary and is set to expire at the end of the year.
The impending premium hike once again reveals that the so-called “cost-saving” elements of Obamacare are simply smoke and mirrors. Health care costs are still going up, but those increases are obscured by shifting initial financial pain from a patient’s monthly health insurance bill to what Americans owe Uncle Sam in taxes. At the end of the day, we can’t escape paying for Obamacare’s folly.
Lawmakers supportive of injecting health care with even more government are marching straight into the political trap of their own design. Notice of the premium hikes will be delivered to affected adults leading up to the midterm elections. Cue the blame game.
Clever political operatives will spin the narrative to frame Republicans — and some honest Democrats — who are skeptical of spending more money on extending subsidies given high inflation as the villains. But in reality, renewing enhanced Obamacare subsidies is no more a long-term solution to rising health care costs than the Biden administration’s plan of releasing strategic oil reserves to “fight” high gas prices.
Americans need reforms that will rein in costs for good while also improving care, not a Band-Aid. Thinning bureaucratic bloat, offering more health care choices and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship should be priorities. From there, the free market can do the heavy lifting to help connect people to the health care options that best fit their unique circumstances at an affordable price.
I’ve benefited from free market-based health care firsthand.
Last year, due to a strong family history of breast cancer, I decided to proactively face my health care risks. I asked my longtime physician for a breast ultrasound in addition to my annual mammogram to help detect early cancer. However, despite my inherent vulnerabilities, the doctor ordered tests “as needed,” which meant one thing — a six-month delay.
Frustrated, I decided to try another approach. Direct primary care is an alternative to insurance-funded, hospital-based care and is similar to a gym membership, where patients pay a reasonable monthly fee to access a doctor’s services. The best part is it largely works outside the current system, which has been poisoned by Obamacare.
The outcome was eye-opening. My first visit was an hour-long one-on-one meeting with the doctor. Not a rushed 15-minute check-up. After sharing my family history and fears, she agreed I needed the extra testing, and from there we acted quickly. Genetic testing revealed a diagnosis of breast cancer was not a matter of “if” but “when.” So I underwent a double mastectomy and reduced my risk of breast cancer by 95% before my previous doctor, tangled in a web of government red tape and bureaucracy, could even get an ultrasound scheduled.
The upcoming health care premium hike confirms what we already know: Obamacare isn’t working. Although partially hidden, health care costs are continuing to rise while doctors are busy complying with regulations and responding to insurance mandates, not people. My story is proof there’s a better way forward that will save people money and provide them with better care.
• Elaine Parker is the president of the Job Creators Network Foundation, which manages HealthCareForYou.com.