News & Politics

Koch-Backed Group Busts Obamacare Affordability Myths

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According to a new study by Freedom Partners, a free market advocacy group backed by the Charles Koch donor network, the so-called Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare or ACA) actually made healthcare less affordable. The study, released Wednesday, condemned the health law as pushing costs in the wrong direction.

This statement by the group’s senior policy advisor, Nathan Nascimento, explains the gist of the report:

The Administration claimed the ACA would bend the cost curve, but our report shows it bent in the wrong direction — premiums didn’t slow under the Affordable Care Act, they sped up. No wonder the White House is trying to change the national conversation away from health care costs. By their own standards, the Affordable Care Act has failed.

The Freedom Partners analysis builds on a 2009 report from the Obama administration which found that premiums for employer-sponsored health plans increased from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Democrats used the report to pass Obamacare, claiming that the ACA would fix the problem, but the new report shows that the rate of premiums has not increased or stalled since Obamacare — rather, it has continued to increase.

In the five years before Obamacare passed, annual premiums for families using employer-based insurance rose by an average of 4.8 percent. Since the law was enacted, the average rose faster, at 5 percent between 2010 and 2015. At the same time, Freedom Partners notes ominously, wages have remained stagnant, rendering health care even more expensive. Premiums outpaced wages in 47 of the 50 states, and the average deductible for employer-sponsored plans skyrocketed: from $303 in 2006 to $1,077 in 2015.

As the national conversation shifts to foreign affairs, between President Obama’s visit to Cuba and the terror attacks in Brussels, Freedom Partners is trying to keep this domestic economic struggle in the spotlight. While President Obama’s approval rating has increased in recent weeks, the approval of his signature health law remains low, with 49.3 percent opposing it and only 36.7 supporting it, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Obamacare has made few appearances throughout the presidential election, but it is likely to emerge as a major issue in the general election. Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have taken strong stances against it (although Trump has supported single-payer healthcare in the past, and some say he would replace Obamacare with…Obamacare), while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have championed the health law, but pledge to expand upon it. Right before the November election, the cost estimates of 2017 premiums are likely to come out, and this news might propel a Republican candidate.

Freedom Partners also released a video to go with the report: