Hillary Clinton is telling voters she wants “to build on” Obamacare. The president’s signature health care law remains highly unpopular because many Americans believe it’s not a good deal for them personally. The president essentially laid out a case for the law’s failures in an article he wrote for the Journal of the American Medical Association. He wrote: “too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions, cover their deductibles, or pay their monthly insurance bills; struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system; and remain uninsured.”It was a striking concession. It also shows that the president still has no idea how much damage he’s done to Americans’ health care. Let’s go point by point.1. “too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions …” Drug costs have risen dramatically over the past few years. According to a report last fall from Emory University, the people insured through Obamacare are hit especially hard. Out-of-pocket expenses for medications in a typical Obamacare silver plan are twice as high as they are in the average employer-sponsored plan. Obamacare insurance also tends to have more restrictions on the doctors patients can see. People may try to get an appointment with their family doctor, only to be told, “Sorry, we don’t take Obamacare.” They can get hit with a huge bill for a routine office visit that’s now “out-of-network.” 2. “cover their deductibles …” In a recent poll, two-thirds of Americans said they would have trouble coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency. The average silver plan in the Obamacare exchanges this year has a deductible of more than $3,000. That’s how much people will have to pay out of their pocket before their insurance kicks in. Some Obamacare plans next year will have deductibles as high as $7,000. If you have to switch insurance in the middle of the year, you could find that you have already paid thousands of dollars toward your deductible, only to have to start over again with a new insurer. This is the situation facing 72,000 people in Illinois and Ohio whose taxpayer-supported health insurance co-ops collapsed over the past few months.Similarly, you may have to find new doctors or hospitals where your new Obamacare insurance is accepted. 3. “pay their monthly insurance bills …” Even President Obama hasn’t been able to ignore the headlines about skyrocketing premiums. Insurers across the country expect to raise their prices an average of 23 percent next year. The president once bragged that his health care law would reduce premiums by $2,500 per family, per year. Instead, the average premium for families who get insurance through their job rose by $4,170 between 2009 and 2015. The Obama administration predicts that health spending in America will reach a record high of more than $10,000 per person this year. Under Obamacare, millions of people are paying more of this cost themselves.4. “struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system …” America’s health care system was complicated before Obamacare. The health care law took that complexity to a new level. The law was more than 2,000 pages long. Rules and regulations associated with it run to about 30,000 pages. Ever since the failed launch of HealthCare.gov in 2013, the annual ritual of signing up for Obamacare has been a nightmare. Families often have no idea if their doctor will accept their insurance from one year to the next. They also have new paperwork to fill out for the IRS.What is the administration’s advice to try to minimize the price hikes and coverage shifts caused by the law? They recommend you do hours of research every fall and to switch plans and possibly doctors.5. “and remain uninsured.” President Obama could have said from the start that the law’s only real goal was to cover people who didn’t have health insurance. He could have admitted that doing this would create more chaos, higher costs, and worse care for American families. The law still would have fallen short. About 29 million people in America still don’t have insurance. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 21 million people would enroll in coverage through the Obamacare exchanges this year. The number is actually 11 million. The weak enrollment numbers show how unpopular Obamacare is. The law pushed millions of people into second-class coverage in Medicaid. It forced others into narrow insurance for which they’re paying too much.President Obama has finally acknowledged some of the ways his law is failing the American people. Hillary Clinton and Democrats in Washington continue to promise that they can fix Obamacare if we just allow them to make it bigger, costlier and more complex.That’s simply not going to work. The only way to fix Obamacare is to end it and replace it with patient-centered care.John Barrasso, a physician and Republican senator from Wyoming, is chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
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