Contrary to a promise candidate Obama made more than 50 times, Health insurance premiums are going up substantially next year. That’s the word from an insurance industry executive who says rates will double in some places around the country.
The unnamed executive tells the Hill “I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs.” The executive says he expects his own company to triple rates next year. He blames “major delays on very significant portions of the law” for the coming increases.
Last week Sec. Sebelius admitted during congressional testimony that premiums would increase next year. However, Sebelius suggested the increases would be “at a smaller pace” than in previous years.
Bill Hoagland, a former executive at Cigna, tells the Hill Sebelius’ admission was “her way of getting out in front of it.” The problem of course is that the President claimed over 50 times during the 2008 campaign that family’s premiums would go down by $2,500 under his plan.
Turns out that promise was based on some back-of-the-envelope figuring by a few of Obama’s advisers. The NY Times explained how they came up with it back in 2008:
In May 2007, three Harvard professors who are unpaid advisers to the
Obama campaign — Mr. Cutler, David Blumenthal and Jeffrey Liebman —
produced a memorandum offering their “best guess” that a menu of changes
would produce savings of at least $200 billion a year…
The total savings were then divided by the country’s population,
multiplied for a family of four, and rounded down slightly to a number
that was easy to grasp: $2,500.
So this was always intended to be an estimate of potential savings to the entire health system. It was never a $2,500 cut in family premiums, even though Obama repeatedly said it just that way during the campaign. Now that insurers are about to announce some big increases, it’s necessary for the administration to backtrack.
That big savings to the system were possible can be excused as political optimism. That Obama transmuted these theoretical savings into a direct discount on family premiums is something much more cynical. As with his other promises about keeping plans and doctors, Obama should have known better. He wasn’t just wrong, he intentionally misled people even after the figures were questioned by the NY Times.
Avik Roy created this video showing Obama making this promise more than a dozen times in 2007-2008. Again, note his use of the the word “premiums” when he makes this claim about big savings.