Health Care: The ranks of the uninsured climbed last year. So, naturally, President Trump is taking the blame because of his attempts to repeal ObamaCare. The fault, however, lies not with Trump, but with ObamaCare itself.
A new Gallup report shows that the ranks of the uninsured climbed from 10.9% in Q4 2016 to 12.2% by Q4 2017. At first blush, it makes sense to point to Trump, given that this increase came during his first year in office.
As Huffington Post put it: “Trump’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act appears to be working.”
But a closer look at the data and a review of recent history shows that Trump had nothing to do with the increase in the uninsured last year. The factors that did were baked in the cake in the summer of 2016 — when President Obama was sitting in the White House and Hillary Clinton was busy measuring the Oval Office drapes.
Let’s review the facts.
Insurers had to announce their proposed 2017 premiums in mid-2016, which then got reviewed by state regulators. The result was a massive 25% increase in average ObamaCare premiums nationwide. In Pennsylvania, premiums shot up 33%. In Illinois, they climbed 44%. In Oklahoma, 76%.
That was after two previous years of historic rate hikes. And each year was marked by insurance companies fleeing ObamaCare markets.
At the time, Democrats and the press dismissed skyrocketing ObamaCare premiums, saying that they really didn’t matter since most people enroll in an ObamaCare exchange get generous subsidies, which means their actual premiums would remain unchanged.
But that overlooked the millions who buy coverage in the individual market but who aren’t eligible for any ObamaCare subsidies. Thanks to ObamaCare’s mandates and regulations, basic insurance was fast becoming unaffordable.
Trump and the GOP had nothing to do with these failures. The changes they did enact had only a modest impact on 2018 premiums.
What’s more, open enrollment in the exchange for 2017 closed on January 31, 2017 — one week after Trump took the oath of office. So the fact that enrollment in the exchanges dropped in 2017 also had nothing to do with Trump. Enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges came in well below forecasts every year since they opened in 2014.
The combination of declining ObamaCare enrollment and skyrocketing premiums ended up pushing more people out of the insurance market in 2017.
What’s more, Gallup’s survey found that the uninsured rate had essentially bottomed out in early 2015, when it hit 11.4%. By the end of that year, it was back up to 11.9%. It dipped down to 10.9% during the last half of 2016, before resuming its upward trend in 2017.
Even if Hillary Clinton had been president, the ranks of the uninsured would have started climbing again last year as ObamaCare’s years of massive rate hikes priced more and more people out of the insurance market.