Washington press and political circles have been abuzz this week over the new Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found families enrolled in employer-provided health care plans have seen their premiums rise by 9 percent in just the past year, a significant increase. The Kaiser Foundation’s report attributes over 16 percent of the premium hike to ObamaCare.
A Wall Street Journal editorial from yesterday noted that (emphasis added):
“Much of this surge is due to ObamaCare's new coverage mandates, and in anticipation of insurers becoming public utilities with government imposing price controls on rates.”
While the premium spike has many in the press and professional Left baffled, they can’t say they weren’t warned. In December 2009, during the height of the health care debate on the Hill, I and ATR’s Ryan Ellis made the case in an OC Register op-ed that the increase in insurance mandates sought by President Obama and congressional Democrats would have the opposite effect of bending the cost curve:
Health insurance mandates are government-imposed requirements that insurers and health care plans either cover, or offer coverage, for a condition or treatment. As recently as the 1960s, mandates were few and far between. However, today there are more than 2,000 mandates imposed by the federal and state governments.
Health insurance mandates drive up the cost of health insurance significantly. According to a recent study by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, insurance mandates increase the cost of a basic health care plan by 20 percent to 50 percent. This estimate is based on analysis of insurance policies, not theories or modeling.
To understand how mandates drive up health insurance costs and price many out of the market, consider the following hypothetical situation: A new college graduate is in the market for a new car. At this point in her life she just wants reliable transportation. However, the government requires her to buy the fully loaded Lexus, with heated seats, navigation system and pricey options, even though that is not what the customer needs or can afford.”
ATR wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm. This from J.P. Wieske, Executive Director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance:
“While some state and federal legislators continue to pass new mandated benefit laws, others recognize that mandates drive up the cost of health insurance and make health insurance policies unaffordable for millions of Americans. As implementation of the new federal health insurance law further drives up the cost of health insurance, the cost of adding new mandated benefits will become a more important issue.”
That said, as the aforementioned WSJ editorial made clear, Republicans do not have clean hands on this issue either, failing to pass legislation sponsored by former Congressman John Shadegg that would’ve helped rectify the matter when they controlled both chambers on the Hill. The Shadegg bill would have permitted consumers to buy health insurance from anywhere in the country. Shadegg’s proposal lives on in the form of H.R. 371, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s Health Care Choice Act of 2011, which ATR supports.