Before this week, virtually all of the costs of the so-called Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — have been invisible. But that is beginning to change.
As the controversial law passes its third anniversary, and as the Obama administration struggles to get a whole new national health care system up and running by next January, a visible sign of the law’s economic costs is seen in the 12,000 pages of regulations to implement the law’s 2,801 pages of legalese. Printed out and stacked, that tower of paper stands seven feet tall. Laid end to end, it stretches for two and a half miles.
Even more troubling than the economic costs are the human costs.
Rosemarie Battaglia, a senior citizen from Texas, is on Medicare Advantage. Last month, the Medicare agency issued regulations that will reduce her health benefits, starting April 1, by thousands of dollars every year. Because coverage costs are expected to increase on average by $2,235 a year, Mrs. Battaglia has postponed her retirement indefinitely.
Why? To help pay for Obamacare.
Hugh Joyce, owner of the 150-employee James River Air Conditioning in Richmond, Virginia, recently told the Washington Post that his insurer has warned him to expect an 18 percent spike in his company’s health insurance premiums next year. Why? To help pay for Obamacare.
“If our cost trajectory continues,” Joyce told the Post, “in five to seven years the premiums will eat up all my net profit. … This [law] may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
People like Rosemarie Battaglia and Hugh Joyce are helping Americans see the human face of a law that, so far, has only been a controversial abstraction.
The list of broken promises grows daily:
Millions of Americans are receiving double-digit premium hikes. For many people under 30, their health insurance premiums are going up much more — by as much as 189 percent. What happened to candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 promise that every family’s health care costs would go down by $2,500 by the end of his first term? (Costs actually went up by $3,000.)
The Congressional Budget Office projects Obamacare will cost tens of billions more over the next decade than the agency projected just three years ago. Those increases were not budgeted for, and will add to massive deficits.
So much for the promise that the law “will not add one dime to the deficit.”
Millions of workers at places like Wendy’s and Olive Garden are now being preemptively reclassified as part-time, and an estimated 7 million to 20 million employees face the loss of workplace health benefits altogether.
So much for the oft-heard promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”