A lot of us knew former President Barack Obama’s national healthcare system which had to call itself “affordable” would be exactly the opposite. And we were right, as this writer noted last November 2017 in “Healing the Affordable Care Act.”
The theory that this new national Nanny State health insurance program would be a raging success by expanding health insurance eligibility to patients with pre-existing conditions with the expectation that an IRS penalty – applied only to refunds, not collected outright with other income tax due – would get all the healthy younger folks to sign up for their still-cheap catastrophic care coverage (low-cost premium with high deductible for sudden and unexpected illness or injury) turned out to be incorrect.
Enough younger, healthier people did not sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage – but those with low incomes and known medical conditions jumped at the chance to get someone else to pay for their treatment, and that of their families.
Because the American people just would not cooperate with former President Obama’s nationalized health plan system, premiums costs continue to rise and never fall, as Obama promised repeatedly.
The chart below compares projected 2019 ACA Exchange monthly unsubsidized Bronze Plan and Benchmark premiums with 2018 costs for several states:
You can see that Vermont had the least increase in health insurance premiums (5 percent) with Maryland leading the pack with a whopping 41 percent increase in just one year, from $314 to $443 per month. Just how are residents of Maryland supposed to find this cost increase “affordable” when no one is getting compensatory 40% pay raises?
Critical analysts predicted that the ACA would not flourish, and it hasn’t. One problem is that the federal individual mandate requiring everyone to sign up for health insurance or pay an IRS fine exempts people whose insurance premiums (cost) are higher than about 10% of their income. An older person with a typical $400 monthly premium – for minimal Bronze Plan coverage, by the way – would have to earn $4,000 a month or $48,000 annually. Many oldsters simply do not earn this much, and probably never will.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) “estimate that 30 million” would not have health insurance in 2016, “but most will be exempt from the penalty individual mandate requiring ACA insurance]; 4 million will make payments totaling $4 billion.”
In 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the ACA’s individual mandate clause, claiming that Congress has the authority to levy taxes. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion:
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
True to his presidential campaign promise, Donald Trump has been working steadily to get the abominable ACA out of the way so Americans can get health insurance they really can afford.
First, in January 2018, President Trump told the nation that, effective 2019, the ACA’s individual mandate would be eliminated. The US President said:
“We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year — forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.”
Now, six months later, under attack is another hinge-pin of the ACA: patients with pre-existing conditions who drive up insurers’ costs through their (predictable) insurance claims. The Trump administration “told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions.”
This new ruling will permit insurance companies to deny coverage or charge higher premium rates to those with pre-existing conditions, just like they did pre-ACA.
What is surprising is that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has ruled that requiring Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.
Because the 2012 ruling interpreted the individual mandate as a legal tax, and because that law has since been repealed, the highest court in the land can no longer justify giving special preference to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
According to a legal brief filed in the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Indiana, the individual mandate is no longer a tax “because it will raise no revenue as Congress has eliminated the monetary penalty.”
Coincidentally, DOJ official Joel McElvain announced his resignation, effective July 6, 2018, after more than 20 years of service. The reason, although unsubstantiated, might well be due to the fact that the “DOJ’s decision reversed years of legal work McElvain and the department had amassed to defend ObamaCare in court.”
This writer believes that health insurance has no business being in the hands of the federal government. The United States is not a socialist country. Like auto insurance, health insurance is more properly regulated by each US State legislature and not the federal government.
Let’s hope the Trump administration has planned the death knell for this overly-complex and completely hypocritical “affordable” health coverage program. Privatize health insurance so it competes on the free market like any other service and let’s just say “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”