More than five years ago the Affordable
Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, was signed into law. Two years ago the law took affect. The question today is has it worked? Politicians promised that the Affordable
Care Act would solve two important problems. It would put an end to decades
of rising health care costs, and it would ensure that everyone
had access to health insurance. But the ACA in practice looks a lot
different from what was promised. Politicians promised that the Affordable
Care Act would cut the cost of a typical family’s health insurance by up
to $2500 a year, but it didn’t. Since 2008, the average annual
cost of private health insurance has increased more than $1000 and
the average annual cost of employer provided health
insurance has risen $4800. On top of that, since 2008, average health
insurance deductibles have almost doubled. But politicians promised us
that the Affordable Care Act would provide health insurance access for
everyone. Perhaps higher health insurance costs
are simply the price we have to pay for universal access. But here too,
the reality doesn’t match the promise. In 2015, more than 32 million
people are still uninsured. And an additional 6.5 million are only
insured because Congress expanded existing Medicaid programs, not because
of the ACA’s healthcare exchanges. So why hasn’t the Affordable Care Act
worked as promised? Before the ACA, we only had to pay for
health insurance. Under the ACA we have to pay for
health insurance plus a new government bureaucracy to
manage the health insurance industry. Proponents argued that government
regulation was necessary to restore competition. But the Federal Government is a monopoly
that faces even less competition than did private insurers. In short, the Affordable Care Act
took an expensive and low competition industry and put it under
the control of a more expensive and even less competitive government. It should surprise no one that the results
are the opposite of what we were promised. So how did we get here? Long before the Affordable Care Act, state governments erected barriers
to protect in state insurers. This reduced competition that would
have reined in insurance prices. Legislators and
lobbyists fought to require that all insurance plans cover specific
treatments and favored procedures. Each of these requirements drove up
the cost of providing insurance. Rather than correcting these
anti-competitive regulations, the Affordable Care Act expanded
them on a national scale. The ACA took decision making
out of the hands of doctors, patients, and insurers, and put it into
the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. The problem is politicians and bureaucrats
have neither the information nor the incentive to make
prudent decisions for others.