Insurance premiums are going up. That’s not the way it was supposed to work. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that’s not the way it was sold. From an Associated Press fact-check of President Obama’s press conference last week:
OBAMA: Said he never expected to extend insurance coverage to an additional 31 million people “for free.“ He added that ”we’ve made huge progress” if medical inflation could be brought down to the level of overall inflation, or somewhere slightly above that.
THE FACTS: Those claims may be supported in the fine print of the plan he pitched to Congress and a skeptical public months ago. But they were rarely heard back then. “My proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses and the federal government,” he declared in March.
Last August he predicted: “The American people are going to be glad that we acted to change an unsustainable system so that more people have coverage, we’re bending the cost curve, and we’re getting insurance reforms.”
On Friday, he conceded: “Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do.” The goal: “Slowly bring down those costs.”
The White House contends that although health care costs will rise when most of the changes take hold in 2014 and coverage is extended to the uninsured, costs will go down over the longer term as controls kick in.
Of course, that may not be the case either. An analysis by the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that the healthcare overhaul will increase heath care costs by $289 billion over the next 10 years.
But what’s really interesting is a comment last week from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
ObamaCare gives Ms. Sebelius's regulators the power to define "unreasonable" premium hikes, which will mean whatever they decide it will mean later this fall. She promised to keep a list of insurers "with a record of unjustified rate increases" and then to bar them from ObamaCare's subsidized "exchanges" when they come on line in 2014. In other words, insurers must accept price controls now or face the retribution of a de facto ban on selling their products to consumers four years from now.
And liberals were worried about the Bush administration using the government to silence dissent against the war on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan – they never did. But now that they have the power, they’re willing to use it to punish those that tell inconvenient truths.
Honestly, the insurance industry could be telling lies too (but they aren’t) and that still doesn’t give the Obama administration the right to punish private citizens for their speech.