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It's Failing: New HHS Report Continues Drumbeat of Dreadful Obamacare News

Last week, we shared the results of an independent study predicting double-digit premium increases across all Obamacare coverage levels in 2018, including a 34 percent jump among "baseline" silver plans.  We also highlighted a Politico review of the law's devastating impact on many consumers in Iowa, one of the states hit hardest by Obamacare's enduring and systemic failures.  This week brings a fresh report from the Department of Health and Human Services, confirming the "Affordable" Care Act's continued downward spiral.  Via the Washington Examiner's summary:


Health insurance premiums for the first Obamacare open enrollment under President Trump will be 37 percent higher than last year for mid-level plans sold on, according to a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services...The latest report, prepared by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, found that a 27-year-old who buys a mid-level plan, known as a silver plan, and does not receive a subsidy from the federal government will pay an average of $4,932 in premiums for 2018. In 2017, someone with that profile paid $3,600 in premiums for the year, and in 2016, they paid $2,904. During Obamacare's first year, in 2014, someone with that profile would have paid $2,616. Obamacare customers will also have fewer health insurers to buy coverage from, which will also limit the doctors and hospitals that they can see under these plans. The report found that the percentage of customers who have more than two options is shrinking.

Conservative policy analyst Phil Kerpen runs through additional data points from the study:


Nearly one-third of all Obamacare consumers will be faced with one provider "choice" next year, with more than half having just one or two possible options.  The total number of state-level plan issuers across the country has been slashed by more than 100 since 2015.  And average rates -- which more than doubled on the federal exchange between 2013 and 2017 -- keep heading up.  And that doesn't even account for prohibitively expensive out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles.  On a county-by-county basis, the receding 2018 coverage map looks like this:

The Trump administration is not setting a sign-up goal for the upcoming open enrollment period, drawing new complaints of "sabotage."  But critics would be wise to recall how the Obama administration consistently fell embarrassingly short of their own targets.  The Congressional Budget Office's 2010 projections anticipated roughly 23 million Americans would be signed up on the Obamacare exchanges by 2018.  This year's actual number: Less than 10 million.  And as for claims that the Trump White House is putting its thumb on the scale to make these numbers look as bad as possible, don't forget that the final Obama-era HHS report was packed with dreadful news about the law's trajectory -- and that was before Trump started "undermining" the law by canceling illegal CSR payments and the like.  In other words, even when Obamacare was being propped up by a Democratic administration, and most people expected the next Democratic administration would do the same, its impacts on affordability and consumer choice (both hallmarks of Democrats' sales pitch) were negative and deteriorating.  I'll leave you with this number, which comes from a D+12 poll, and despite widespread opposition to various Republican 'repeal and replace' bills:


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