Democrats are quite fond of telling Republicans that Obamacare is the law, that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld it yet again, and that it is working. The subtext: The Affordable Care Act isn‘t an issue anymore, so stop talking about it.
However, Obamacare will remain an important issue throughout the 2016 campaign — not because of any cynical Republican election strategy, but because the law isn‘t finished punishing Americans with higher costs as a result of its unfixable flaws. Voters will notice without any partisan prodding.
When insurance companies proposed their 2015 rates last year, they were based on a limited amount of information about the health of the new customers who were expected to sign up for Obamacare. According to The Wall Street Journal, some larger insurers asked for modest increases of less than 10 percent, while some smaller insurers tried to undercut pricing by the majors to swipe market share.
Now, concerned that the law‘s mandates and an older, sicker risk pool will cost them millions (and millions) of dollars, Blue Cross & Blue Shield and an increasing number of other health insurers across the nation have requested substantial rate increase requests for 2016. According to documents posted online by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state insurance commissioners, the requests range from 18 percent in Florida to a whopping 54 percent in Minnesota. State regulators across the nation have until August to approve, deny or limit rate increase requests. The bottom line: A whole lot of Americans are going to pay a whole lot more for health insurance next year.
And next year, when the presidential race is really heating up, Americans will be subjected to even bigger premium increases because of the expiration of the ongoing government "risk corridor" bailout program that‘s supposed to cover insurers‘ losses.
Also, the employer mandate for companies with between 50 and 100 workers will take effect in 2016, which is expected to hurt job creation by raising company costs. That requirement could potentially throw more people into Obamacare exchanges, leaving them to deal with the aforementioned massive premium hikes.
Democrats passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote and have mocked Republican efforts to repair, repeal and replace the law. Instead of serving as dedicated Obamapologists, they‘d be better off working with Republican majorities to save Americans from further financial harm. Otherwise, come 2016, Democrats had better hope Obamacare also covers bites in the behind.