When he was selling his health care overhaul as a presidential candidate and then as commander-in-chief, Barack Obama repeatedly argued that the plan would lower insurance premiums for everyone. But in California, at least, healthy young people — the vast majority of whom voted for Obama in 2012 — are seeing their costs go up.
Conservative author Avik Roy at Forbes reported Thursday that " for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent." Roy cited data on eHealthInsurance.com showing that the median cost of the five cheapest health care plans in California was only $92 for young people, while under the ObamaCare exchanges the cheapest plan will cost an average of $184 a month.
Obama himself promised that everyone's premiums cost would be lower under his health care plan.
"My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less," Obama said in his May 2007 speech unveiling his health care plan.
"If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness," Obama continued. "Everyone will be able buy into a new health insurance plan that's similar to the one that every federal employee – from a postal worker in Iowa to a Congressman in Washington – currently has for themselves."
Last January, however, insurers predicted to the conservative American Action Forum that small employers' premiums for healthy people 27 and under are likely to increase an average of 169%, while less-healthy people 55 and older would see their costs decrease less than 25%.
Liberal Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein argued that Roy's argument was unfair, contending that under the old system low cost for young people "was made cheap by turning away sick people" which the new health care plan will make insurers unable to turn away. Klein also adds that many young people will be turned away from low price with minor past conditions like ulcers or headaches.
In a May 2009 interview with C-SPAN President Obama again argued that health care reform would result in lower premiums for all Americans.
"One of the very promising areas that we saw was these insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, all these stakeholders coming together, committing to me that they would reduce costs by 1.5 percent per year.
If we do that, it seems like small number, we end up saving $2 trillion. $2 trillion, which not only can help deal with our deficit and our long-term debt, but a lot of those savings can go back into the pockets of American consumers in the form of lower premiums. That's what we are driving for."
It isn't the first time Obama has reversed himself on lower premiums. During the 2008 campaign Obama argued at least 15 times premiums would go down, saying for a family the average drop would be $2500.
The independent fact-checking site Politifact rates this a "promise broken" citing an Obama campaign economist who helped come up with the $2,500 figure and who disavows its use relating to premiums alone.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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