When Congress repealed the individual mandate penalties for Obamacare, Forbes cautioned that some Americans would see premium increases. Now we know how by how much those premiums spiked.
This is, in large part, exactly what the Trump Administration was hoping would happen. As the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was attacked time and again last year, and time and again survived plans to repeal it, Trump outlined a new strategy — sabotage it.
“I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode,” Trump said. And he wasn’t alone.
So that’s what they did. Republicans in Congress repealed the penalties associated with Obamacare’s individual mandate in last year’s tax cut bill that dramatically slashed tax rates for corporations and the wealthy while raising them on working-class Americans.
The penalties encouraged healthy people to buy insurance. In so doing, the costs of insurance would be spread over a larger pool of people. A collective sharing of the burden made the burden lighter. Without that penalty, healthy people on the individual market are not pushed to keep their insurance, and so the pool shrinks, and costs soar.
Even Trump’s former health secretary, Tom Price, warned about this problem.
“There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” said Price.
With this increased burden on those still on the individual market, the administration can point to a failure of Obamacare to control premiums — a failure Republicans designed.
And they didn’t just undermine the individual mandate. The Justice Department refused to defend federal law, and asked the courts to strike down the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
These intentional efforts by the Trump administration to collapse Obamacare have been cited as the cause of rising premiums by several insurers, and present a quieter but no less committed effort to unmake the law that ensures health insurance for millions of Americans.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.