During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama told voters that his health care reform plan would reduce premiums by an average of $2,500. Instead, they've gone up by a little more than $3,000 on average. But that hasn't stopped Vice President Joe Biden from saying that lower premiums are on the way. Jokingly, of course.
The Washington Post reports that while in Florida this week, Biden had a phone call in which he talked health care with the Republican brother of a woman at the campaign stop. "Look, I'm not trying to talk you into voting for me, I just wanted to say hi to you," he said. "And after its all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you'll vote for me in 2016. I'll talk to you later." The pool report describing this exchange notes that Biden said this "in a joking manner." Ha-ha, right?
Is the funny part that he might be on the ballot in 2016 or that premiums will go down? I'll grant that the idea of President Biden rates a chuckle (as well as perhaps a shiver of terror). The reality of insurance premiums under ObamaCare, however, is less funny. Officials in California, one of the minority of states aggressively pursuing implementation of a state-based health insurance exchange under the law, are now warning that insurance in the exchange will be considerably more expensive. According to the Los Angeles Times:
California insurance officials have expressed concern about substantial rate hikes for some existing policyholders going into the exchange.
Under a new rating map approved by state lawmakers, the Department of lnsurance estimated that premiums for similar coverage could increase as much as 25% in West Los Angeles, 22% in the Sacramento area and nearly 13% in Orange County.
Total out of pocket costs may go down for some individuals, but only because publicly funded subsidies make up the difference. The projected rise is larger than expected nationally, but the likely fact of a rise was predictable: The Congressional Budget Office projected in 2009 that ObamaCare would cause individual market health insurance premiums — those most affected by the exchanges — to rise by 10 to 13 percent. Supporters of the law sometimes note that this is partially because the coverage required by the law will be more robust. But that just makes promises of lower premiums even more difficult to believe. Combining massive new subsidies with regulations designed to make a product more expensive is not a recipe for lower costs. If there's a joke here, it's that the Obama administration was able to convince anyone that under ObamaCare's new regulations, the real price of individual premiums would go down.