Anyone who wants more government involvement in health care should explain why past programs didn’t deliver the promised cost reductions.
The Heritage Foundation has released a report looking at government health care policy under the Biden administration. Washington runs several major health care programs, including Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare. These programs are so large that the federal government—not private-sector insurers—is the dominant player in medical spending. In 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that government, at all levels, will account for almost half of all health care spending by 2027.
But government programs rarely deliver what they promise, and medical care is no exception. Consider Obamacare, passed in 2010. Barack Obama infamously pledged that “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”
That whopper shadowed Mr. Obama for the remainder of his presidency.
That’s probably the most infamous broken promise, but it’s worth remembering another one. Mr. Obama also claimed his health care plan would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year” and that the “only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.”
Of course, that didn’t happen either.
“Since Obamacare’s enactment, average monthly premiums have more than doubled,” Nina Owcharenko Schaefer, director of the Heritage’s Center for Health and Welfare Policy, wrote. In 2013, the average monthly premium in the individual market was $244. By 2019, it was $558.
Along with higher premiums came higher deductibles. For a family plan, deductibles shot up from $10,300 to $13,949 and the number of insurers offering individual coverage declined.
Not exactly what Mr. Obama promised.
Then, there’s Medicaid, which originally started as a program to help the truly destitute and disabled. Obamacare expanded coverage to healthy, childless adults. Now, more than 20 million people are on Medicaid thanks to expanded enrollment and that includes many able-bodied individuals.
Yet the Biden administration is making it harder to remove ineligible folks from the program. It also stopped states from adding work requirements for healthy adults.
Medicare continues to be a broken mess. In the coming years, it will require significant benefit cuts, tax increases or more deficit spending to pay its bills.
Government interventions usually make health care more expensive. Then Democrats demand another government program to “fix” the high cost of their previous interventions and mandates. Repeat ad nauseum. That’s worth remembering as progressives sing the siren sound of “free” health care.