What's the biggest concern in the country right now? Health care costs. That tells you everything you need to know about how ObamaCare failed to deliver on its central promise.
The latest IBD/TIPP poll shows that health care costs rank at the top of the list of priorities the public has for the new Congress when it convenes in January.
Fully 22% listed this as their highest priority and another 18% listed it is their second highest. That's above immigration, economy/jobs, or national security. It's way above infrastructure and criminal justice reforms (which were at the rock bottom of the priority list).
But wait a minute. Forty percent say health care costs should be a top priority for Congress? Four years after ObamaCare went into effect?
'Affordable' Care Act?
You know. That's the law that Barack Obama said would "hold insurance companies accountable, lower health care costs, guarantee more choice, and enhance the quality of care for all Americans." It's the law he said would "bend the cost curve down." It was supposed to cut family premiums by $2,500. Its trillions in government subsidies were supposed to make insurance affordable to millions. It was going to keep premiums under check by boosting competition.
After it passed, Obama claimed that "Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health care costs is down." The law, he said, "made significant advances in getting better care at lower costs."
Democrats were so determined to sell ObamaCare as a health care cost cutter that they put the promise right in the law's official name: The Affordable Care Act.
So how come health care costs are the biggest concern in the country today?
Didn't Work As Promised
Put simply, because ObamaCare was a massive, colossal failure.
Nothing worked as promised. Family premiums didn't go down, they went up. In fact, the rate of increase in employer premiums has been 4% since 2013, well above the inflation rate.
Premiums in the individual insurance market more than doubled in ObamaCare's first four years. Those massive price hikes forced millions of families out of the insurance market altogether. ObamaCare premiums for a family in Virginia would be more than $2,000 a month for those who aren't eligible for ObamaCare subsidies.
Even the 8 million or so who get ObamaCare subsidies can still find health care unaffordable. That's because the ObamaCare plans typically come with gargantuan deductibles — family plans in Virginia have deductibles ranging up to $14,000. And they feature highly restrictive provider networks. In many ObamaCare plans, if you go outside these narrow networks, you get no coverage at all.
Health Care Costs Up
Far from "bending the cost curve down," national health expenditures continue to outpace economic growth. The year before ObamaCare went into effect, health spending accounted for 17.2% of GDP. This year, it will likely come in at 18.2%, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (In the four years before ObamaCare went into effect, health spending as a share of GDP actually went down.)
Despite what Democrats will tell you, none of this is the fault of President Trump or the GOP. It is entirely the fault of the Democrats, who alone crafted the government-heavy ObamaCare and sold it to the public on the false pretense that it would save everyone money while improving quality of care.
Try to imagine the blowback Republicans would have received if they'd passed a massive tax cut bill, and afterward polls showed that the public's top complaint was that taxes were too high. Republicans would never live it down.
We are the first to admit that GOP lawmakers deserve heaping piles of blame for bungling the ObamaCare repeal effort. And for losing focus on what matters when it comes to health care: getting more free-market cost-cutting competition into the system.
But why would anybody trust Democrats to tackle today's health cost problems, when they failed so miserably the last time?
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