The news broke last evening, but it didn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. We've known all along that Obamacare's rate hikes were due just before the election, and independent analysts have been tracking the law's 2017 premium spikes for months. Now the Obama administration has been forced to reckon with reality: The president's signature domestic "accomplishment" is failing. These aren't right-wing lies, or whatever. This is official HHS data:
Premiums for a crucial category of Obamacare plans on HealthCare.gov will rise by 25 percent on average next year, more than three times larger than this year's price increases, the Obama administration said Monday. By comparison, average prices for the second cheapest silver-level plan — which is used as the benchmark to determine premium subsidy levels — had increased by just 7.5 percent on average in 2016 and 2 percent in 2015...Federal health officials also confirmed that roughly one in five people in the states that use HealthCare.gov must shop from only one insurer following decisions by several major national and regional insurers to pull back from the Obamacare marketplaces in 2017. On average, exchange customers will have 30 plan options to choose from for 2017, down from 47 this year...HHS says 15 new insurers will enter the exchanges in 2017, while 83 insurers are dropping off the marketplaces. About 80 percent of customers will have at least two companies to choose from; just more than half will have at least three. The Obama administration expects 13.8 million people nationwide to pick a plan during the upcoming open enrollment season, about 1 million more than signed up this year.
Compared to this year's disaster, consecutive average increases of "just" 7.5 percent may seem "affordable," but a combined 15 percent rise in rates over a two year period is a clear failure unto itself. Americans were promised substantially reduced premiums for all consumers. And now they're going through the roof. I discussed the four big takeaways from the administration's announcement with Brit Hume last evening, via Right Sightings:
(1) Average benchmark premiums increasing an average of 25 percent.
(3) Approximately one out of five Obamacare consumers will have to "choose" from among one or zero plans in their area.
(4) The total marketplace enrollment anticipated by the administration for 2017 is 13.8 million people. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office initially projected that enrollment would be north of 21 million by this year.
This finalized official data -- which doesn't take into account skyrocketing rates on non-baseline plans that are hammering millions of people across the country -- serves as a timely reminder that the reason we have this unpopular, harmful law is because Democrats were handed full control of the elected branches of government in 2008. As the liberals who are responsible for this mess demand "fixes" that entail even more spending and more government intrusion (and harsher tax penalties to punish people who can't afford the unaffordable coverage), it is essential to keep Congress out of Democratic hands. Every single Republican running for federal office should pound relentlessly at this theme and on this issue for the next two weeks. Who's up for some flashbacks? Whoops:
Congressional Democrats marched right along and saluted, repeating the lies ad nauseam. Just a few months ago, Kathleen Sebelius' successor at HHS penned an op/ed assuring Americans that premiums weren't increasing as much as they might have without the law, and begging voters to disregard predictions of "doom." That spin looks especially foolish now; plus, "your rising costs could be worse, maybe" wasn't the promise on which the law was sold:
Take a bow, Democrats: