The Affordable Care Act: more costly than ever

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Last week, the Obama administration confirmed that the Affordable Care Act continues to break one of its signature promises – that the law would in fact reduce the cost of health care for the American people.  The administration announced that insurance premiums in the federally- managed health exchanges would increase by an average of 25 percent for the mid-level benchmark plan in 2017.  We have seen these costs grow in recent years, so this news is no surprise, nor was it unforeseeable when the law was debated and passed. 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Virginia consumers will fare “relatively well” as it relates to these increases, and on a statistical basis that is certainly accurate.  On average, Virginians will see a 10 percent premium increase for benchmark plans and an overall 19.5 percent average premium increase for all plans. But 5th District Virginians would not describe 10-20 percent increases as faring well because they cannot afford double-digit hikes at a time when the economy is not growing fast enough nor are good jobs and wages.  

 In response to critics of these premium hikes, defenders of the law point out that most of the exchange participants receive government subsidies that will offset some of the increased costs. But that is also cause for great concern because hardworking American taxpayers are paying and will continue to face higher taxes to pay these subsidies and our debt will increase more rapidly as these costs continue to spiral out of control. 

Additionally, insurer participation in the exchanges will decrease dramatically next year, with 70 companies stating that they will no longer offer coverage. 

 Perhaps the most unfortunate fact is that we have known from the very beginning that these outcomes were both likely and foreseeable, yet we have been led down this path and the American people are suffering the consequences. It is time to reverse course and put an end to the broken promises. We must inject market-oriented reform into the health care system that gives the American people more choice and will reduce their costs. I remain committed to reforms that are patient-centered and market-oriented to deliver the health care system the American people deserve.

Robert Hurt represents Charlotte County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120 or by email at