Oklahoma insurance commissioner: Affordable Care Act is raising costs for Oklahomans
BY JOHN DOAK
Traveling across the state I regularly hear the concerns of Oklahomans about Obamacare. Some oppose the federal government’s intrusion into the health care market, some have no confidence in the leadership in Washington, D.C., and almost all know that government is spending money it doesn’t have.
But I’ve never heard an Oklahoman say they oppose increasing access and reducing the costs of health insurance coverage — two unrealized “goals” of the Affordable Care Act. The reality is that the ACA is rationing access and increasing the cost of health care.
In a 2009 speech to the American Medical Association, President Obama infamously promised us: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. … If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”
Tell that to the millions of Americans and the Oklahomans who have lost their health insurance coverage, and their doctors, and access to the highest-quality health coverage of their choice. This was the biggest failure of the administration’s Obamacare rollout. But failure No. 2 is well underway. We were promised the ACA would “bend the cost curve down.” As many carriers have submitted significant rate increases for 2015, people across Oklahoma are learning they may not be able to afford their health insurance because their rates are on the rise.
How is Obamacare increasing health insurance premiums? The answer is simple: We were told that by getting younger and healthier Americans to pay for insurance, which they were failing to do before, the federal government could increase mandates and spread the costs across a larger pool of individuals buying insurance.
However, not even the federal government can fully stop the power of free-market forces (something conservatives knew!), so Obamacare has failed to enroll the younger and healthier individuals needed to contain insurance premium rates.
While rate increases in Oklahoma aren’t as dramatic, the ACA still mandates that insurers use a single risk pool when calculating rates, and costs for the entire insurance pool are rising across the country. More dramatic increases could catch up to Oklahoma in coming years.
Reflecting an increase in costs and the use of health care services, the Bureau of Economic Analysis notes that 2014 has recorded some of the highest rates of growth in health care spending in more than three decades, including an almost 10 percent surge in the first quarter alone.
Be ready for even more spin from Obama. A recent Politico story detailed the efforts of the administration’s Obamacare war room as they begin spinning premium rate increases to help elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate and deflect responsibility for higher rates away from their own policies and on to private companies. Oklahomans know exactly where the blame for rate increases should be laid: the front door of the White House.
Doak, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s elected insurance commissioner. He will begin his second and final term in January.