Affordable Care Act, 11 years later, is still giving us harmful side effects

You’re reading the Opposing View, one of two perspectives in Today’s Debate.

For Our View, read “ Obamacare survives Trump, repeal, replace and COVID-19.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law 11 years ago — an overhaul proponents argued would lower costs, expand access and improve quality by giving patients more choice. Sadly, it has failed to meet some of those laudable goals.

Since the ACA’s passage, health care costs have skyrocketed as patient choices dwindle — a result of strangling doctors, hospitals, employers and insurance providers with government red tape. The Supreme Court determined that the individual mandate penalty, which forced Americans to purchase coverage that didn’t necessarily fit their unique circumstances, was unconstitutional. 

Although President Barack Obama repeatedly asserted that families would save up to $2,500 annually on health care premiums, costs have actually jumped by 66% since 2014. Middle-class families with incomes on the margin who don’t qualify for government financial assistance get the short end of the stick. Between 2016 and 2018, 2.5 million people who didn’t receive federal health care subsidies dropped out of the ACA marketplace altogether. 

President Obama’s assurance that you could keep your health plan and doctor earned the title of PolitiFact’s “lie of the year” in 2013. Today, residents living in over half of U.S. counties have access to two or fewer health plan options on ACA exchanges.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Due to increased premiums and deductibles, many have coverage and an insurance card, but don’t have care because they are unable to afford the increased costs. Even Democrats obliquely acknowledge the ACA’s failure by continuing to push for even more governmental control of your health care. 

If coverage without care is your goal, then the ACA may be a success. If, however, your goal is increased access, affordability and quality, then lawmakers should focus on providing Americans with more health care options that fit their unique circumstances. Personalized care in conjunction with price transparency, a strategy the Job Creators Network Foundation has been exploring through its Healthcare for You reform framework, will increase access and lower costs for everyone.

On the 11th anniversary of the ACA, the harmful unintended consequences of injecting more government into health care are undeniable. Americans should be skeptical of trusting the same group of people who brought us the current system to “fix” these problems. A better strategy would be to return decision-making power back to patients, which has been stripped away by ACA regulations, so they can receive the personalized care they want and need. 

Thomas Price, MD, a former Health and Human Services secretary and former member of Congress, is a senior health care policy fellow at the Job Creators Network.

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