Obamacare's positive effect on Americans is exaggerated, according to political expert
Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for National Review and American Enterprise Institute fellow, believes credit for the decline in the number of people without insurance has little to do with the ACA.
“The main takeaway is that the evidence that Obamacare has fixed the cost curb (of health insurance) as it was advertised as doing is not very strong,” Ponnuru recently told Patient Daily. “The administration keeps taking credit for relatively low health care inflation rates that have happened over the past few years, but as far as we can tell, that trend of declining health care inflation doesn’t have a lot to do with Obamacare.”
Ponnuru, who is also a columnist for Bloomberg View, said that because there was declining inflation before and after Obamacare passed into law, it is hard to attribute the decline to the national health care plan.
“The decline has actually happened in a lot of other countries too,” Ponnuru said. “You can make the case that there are a lot of people who have heart insurance that didn’t have health insurance before Obamacare. It is not like Obamacare has not accomplished anything, but I think its defenders have a tendency to exaggerate just how much it has accomplished.”
When Obamacare passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated an additional 15 million Americans would become insured under Medicaid -- and 13 million through the exchanges -- by the end of 2015, Ponnuru explained in his column. The CBO recently released a report stating that 10 million additional people were on Medicaid, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last month that 8.8 million were on the exchanges by the end of 2015.
These numbers are good, Ponnuru said in his column. But Medicaid coverage “does not appear to be associated with significant improvements in recipients’ physical health.” In addition, the benefits are lower than the costs involved -- a study showed that “every dollar spent on the program yielded 20 to 40 cents in benefits,” according to Ponnuru.
“I tried to do a broader assessment of Obamacare, and there were a number of downsides,” he said. “There were the soaring deductibles, which, I think, when you combine with other features of the law, you have the situation where a lot of people have coverage for routine, predictable expenses, but they don’t have protection against serious financial risks when there is a major medical event.”
This type of result, Ponnuru stated, is not what an insurance policy aims to achieve and could explain why opponents of Obamacare seem to outnumber its supporters.
“The sad thing is if you think about the gains that have been made under the Affordable Care Act and the disadvantages that come from it, you could have had those advantages without those disadvantages,” he said.
Ideally, an insurance policy without the disadvantages associated with Obamacare would be a better solution for everyone involved.
“You could have provided catastrophic coverage for nearly everybody in the country without having this regulation-heavy, cost-increasing approach that has caused premiums and deductibles to rise and forced people to give up insurance policies that they like,” Ponnuru said. “But, unfortunately, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats -- for different reasons -- are interested in doing that.”