Remember how ObamaCare was going to make health insurance unaffordable? Remember as recently as March of this year, when conservatives were celebrating claims that the cost of coverage would double or even triple in parts of the country?
The exchanges are now open, and according to data compiled by PricewaterhouseCooper, five additional insurers have entered the Georgia market and are offering health-insurance policies for 2015. Thanks in part to the increased competition, the median premium increase in 2015 for Georgia is … 3 percent.
For the sake of comparison, the Commonwealth Fund reports that the cost of individual coverage in Georgia rose by 41 percent from 2003-2011; for family coverage, it rose by 62 percent.
And while we’re at it, let’s also check to see what a major national health-benefits consulting firm is telling its corporate customers about the future of health-care costs:
“Health benefit plan cost trend rates show the slowest growth in 14 years of trend forecasts, according to data compiled in the 2014 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey, Segal Consulting’s seventeenth annual survey of managed care organizations, health insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and third-party administrators.”
Again, these assessments aren’t coming from the White House or from Democrats or even the “liberal media”. These are private-industry, third-party assessments of what’s really happening in the health-insurance market. All of those claims of a “death spiral” in health insurance and other alleged disasters said to be looming have been proved groundless.
And there have been others as well, of course.
Remember when ObamaCare — the catch phrase for a while was “job-killing ObamaCare” — was going to destroy the American economy — the same economy that has added some 2.6 million jobs in the past year, including 250,000 in health care?
Remember when Obama was going to lead to fewer Americans being covered by health insurance, but in fact has led to an increase of 10 million to 12 million with health insurance? In Arkansas, one of the few Southeastern states to have accepted Medicaid expansion, “uninsured ER visits decreased by 24 percent, and uninsured hospital stays dropped 30 percent,” easing financial pressure on hospitals and also easing the cost-shifting for providing care to the uninsured onto those with private insurance.
That may help to explain why in 2015, the average price of an individual policy in Arkansas actually fell by 2 percent.
These days, the standard conservative rebuttal to such facts is two words: “Jonathan Gruber.” The MIT economist who designed RomneyCare in Massachusetts and consulted in the creation of ObamaCare has become a folk anti-hero for his crude, elitist description of the American people as “stupid” in past videotaped comments.
Gruber’s academic arrogance aside, the willful misinterpretation of the content of his remarks by conservatives has been pretty astonishing, even though it shouldn’t be. (If you want a good explanation, go here.) But what I find most amazing about the whole faux controversy is how much of it has come from the very people who at the time of ObamaCare’s passage were peddling a line of malarkey that treated the American people is if they were dumber than dirt.
Yes, I’m talking about “death panels”.
It started with Sarah Palin, at the time time fresh off her role as the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, who claimed that under ObamaCare, her son with Down Syndrome might be judged unworthy of getting health care “based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society.'”
“Such a system is downright evil,” she said, and the absurd claim quickly became part of the Republican mainstream.
Remember John Boehner, warning that “this provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia…”? Remember Sen. Charles Grassley, in an Iowa town hall meeting, telling constituents that people “have every right to fear … We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on Grandma.”
Remember the conservative media comparing ObamaCare to Nazi efforts at mass euthanasia of the elderly and disabled?
Nothing said by an obscure MIT academic can compare to the cynicism, gross deception and insult to the intelligence of the American people carried out back then by many of the same political and media figures now claiming to be shocked by Gruber. The most depressing thing about the whole mess is that as recently as 2012, four in 10 Americans said they believed the “death panels” were actually real.