Are Rising Health Costs Undermining Obama Pledge?
(WASHINGTON) -- Two new independent studies of health insurance premiums and health care spending indicate both are rising at an accelerated pace, despite President Obama’s 2008 promise to contain those costs and his pledge that his health care legislation would reduce premiums.
Spending on health care rose 4.6 percent in 2011 — up $4,500 per person, on average — according to the nonpartisan Health Care Cost Institute. That’s up from a 3.8 growth rate in 2010.
Health insurance premiums for individuals and families also climbed year-over-year, up 3 percent ($186) on average for an individual and 4 percent ($672) on average for a family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
During Obama’s term, between 2009 to 2012, premiums have climbed $2,370 for the average family with an employer-provided plan – a rate faster than the during the previous four years under President George W. Bush, according to Kaiser.
Experts point to rising health care costs as the driver of increased individual spending and higher premiums.
During the 2008 campaign and health care reform debate in 2009, President Obama said repeatedly that his plan would bend the cost curve downward, ultimately saving the average family $2,500 per year.
Obama and Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, including many of the projected cost-saving measures that were hailed before voters.
Many of those cost-savings have yet to be realized.
President Obama explained in response to a question from ABC News at a Sept. 2010 press conference that “bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do.”
Administration officials say they never claimed health care costs would go down, only that they would grow at a slower rate than they would have without the Affordable Care Act.
Families are already enjoying savings through curtailed insurance premium growth under the law – compared to what premiums would be without it – officials say. They also point to tax credits and other provisions that are estimated to save middle-income families who purchase private insurance through new exchanges as much as $2,300 per year in 2014.
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