Hillary Clinton is within striking distance of the White House. Last week, she secured enough delegates to ensure that she’ll be the Democrats’ presidential nominee, barring any hiccups. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, Clinton would beat Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, if the election were tomorrow.
So she has a real chance of implementing her political agenda, including HillaryCare, otherwise known as Obamacare 2.0.
Clinton says she wants to “build on” Obamacare — the very law that has failed to provide affordable, quality healthcare to millions of Americans. She believes that more government — more mandates, more regulations, more subsidies — will do the trick.
And if her initial reform plan fails, she has her next move planned: a government take-over of the healthcare sector.
Obamacare requires all policies sold on the exchanges to cover numerous benefits, like maternity care or substance abuse treatment. But these extras aren’t free. To cover their cost, insurers have had to raise premiums.
Premiums increased an average of 8% this year. In many states, double-digit premium hikes were the norm. Next year should feature more of the same. Insurers in Pennsylvania, Oregon, New Mexico and Georgia have requested average rate increases of 30% or more. In Indiana, Maine and Virginia, they’ve asked to boost premiums by 20% or more.
Insurers have also passed Obamacare’s additional costs along by raising deductibles. The average individual deductible for a bronze plan — the cheapest option on the exchanges — reached $5,700 this year. Next year, deductibles could exceed $7,000.
Clinton has complained about these high costs. She’s noted that 31 million Americans face “excessive out-of-pocket costs.” Never mind that in 2010, she promised that this wouldn’t happen because Obamacare would provide “quality affordable health care for everyone.”
So what’s her solution to the high costs engendered by Obamacare’s mandates and regulations? More mandates and regulations, naturally.
First, she’d pad plans with additional “free” services. She wants to require insurers to provide three sick visits to a doctor each year, in addition to the preventative care Obamacare already mandates.
Second, she’d block insurers from charging more for out-of-network providers who work at an in-network hospital or for any emergency services, regardless of where they’re delivered.
Third, Hillary’s plan would offer an income-based $5,000 refundable tax credit to cover “excessive” out-of-pocket costs, by which she means those beyond 5% of a family’s income. To claim the credit, families would need to save their healthcare bills to prove they were for “qualifying” expenses. Then they’d need to determine the share of their income that those costs represent. From there, they could calculate their expected credit.
In other words, Clinton would add another costly, complicated tax credit on top of those Obamacare already provides.
Finally, she’d forcibly lower out-of-pocket costs. Her plan would cap monthly prescription drug spending at $250.
Clinton’s plan will certainly help some people. But these “fixes” will also push insurers to raise premiums even higher.
Some states have already implemented some of Clinton’s reforms — with predictable results. Lawmakers in California, for instance, imposed a $250 monthly limit this year on prescription drug expenses for silver, mid-level plans sold on the state’s exchange, Covered California. Officials estimate that this initiative could single-handedly drive up premiums by 3%.
As premiums rise, the young and healthy will struggle to justify the costs of paying for insurance they don’t use. Some may leave the market altogether.
That will leave insurance risk pools with comparatively older, sicker patients. To cover the costs of insuring this population, insurers will have to push rates even higher. More and more people will find these new premiums unaffordable — and they, too, will drop their coverage.
This process will repeat, until this “death spiral” causes the exchanges to implode. When that happens, the government will have to step in and take over the health insurance market.
Clinton seems to relish this outcome. Her plan pushes on all fronts toward a single-payer system.
She says that, if elected, she will use the “current flexibility under the Affordable Care Act to empower states to establish a public option,” or a government-run plan, in Obamacare’s exchanges.
The idea isn’t new. Many Democrats fought for a public option in 2009; the House version of what became Obamacare would’ve created one. But the Senate stripped a public option from the final bill that President Obama signed into law.
A public option is little more than a thinly disguised plan to ease the country into a single-payer system. Since the government could price its own policies as it pleased — with no regard for whether they made or lost money — the public option would inevitably undercut private insurers and drive them out of the market.
Clinton also wants to add more people to Medicare — the government-run health program for seniors — by making it available to those over 50. This “Medicare-for-more” plan is a stone’s throw from “Medicare-for-all,” whereby the government lumps every American in the program. Advocates of single-payer have longer supported something like “Medicare-for-more” as the first step toward single-payer.
The closer Hillary Clinton gets to the White House, the closer America gets to single-payer healthcare. For Clinton, government failure is an argument for still more government. Voters should consider themselves warned.