Obamacare Prices are Skyrocketing, Choices are Plummeting and the Marketplace is Collapsing

‘Americans are finding themselves with fewer Obamacare insurance options to choose from on the exchanges. In more than a thousand counties across 26 states, families have only one Obamacare option to ‘choose’ from in the marketplace. Obamacare customers in five states have only one insurer left on the exchanges.’

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the failures of Obamacare:  

“A new report released last night from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed startling new numbers showing just how substantial premium increases have been under Obamacare.  According to that report, average annual Obamacare premiums have increased by nearly $3,000 since 2013 — the year that most of the healthcare law’s mandates and regulations went into effect.  In other words…It is now clear that average Obamacare plans on the exchanges more than doubled from 2013 until now, an increase of 105% or nearly $3,000 — and these figures are based on the Obama Administration’s own data.

“But these exorbitant costs are just one part of the problem, to say nothing of the shrinking choices of insurers offering plans on the Obamacare exchanges across the country.  Last week, our colleague from Iowa, Chairman Grassley, came to the floor and shared with us the story of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge — a bridge in Washington State that was, as he put it ‘set to fail from the very beginning.’  He told us how the bridge was built on ‘a flawed design,’ how it ‘self-destructed,’ and how it eventually ‘collapsed.’  Much like that bridge, he said, Obamacare is becoming ‘its own bridge to nowhere with no insurance plan on its exchanges.’  He’s right.

“As time goes on, more Americans are finding themselves with fewer Obamacare insurance options to choose from on the exchanges.  In more than a thousand counties across 26 states, families have only one Obamacare option to ‘choose’ from in the marketplace. Obamacare customers in five states have only one insurer left on the exchanges. And, as a recent article predicted, ’Insurer choice in the ACA marketplace could hit an all-time low’ in 2018.

“Let that sink in. Families across the country could experience ‘an all-time low’ when it comes to their choices for Obamacare plans next year. In other words, things are likely going to get worse.

Still, despite all the news reports and the studies and the personal stories shared by constituents, some of our colleagues simply refuse to face the realities of this failed law. Consider what we saw just yesterday, when a group of Democratic Senators held a press conference essentially advocating for the Obamacare status quo in rural America. But in case our friends missed it, I want to share a recent headline, which reveals what Obamacare’s status quo has actually meant for families in these regions of the country. It read, ’Rural Shoppers Face Slim Choices, Steep Premiums On Exchanges.’  The article went on to cite a study showing that Obamacare customers living in less populous areas of the country in 2017 ’frequently had just one or two insurers from which to pick and often faced significantly higher premiums than did people in more urban areas.’

“Much like that dilapidated bridge Chairman Grassley described, Obamacare is self-destructing all around us, and we know things are likely to get worse unless we move beyond the failures of Obamacare. In his home state of Iowa, more than 70,000 people are facing the harsh reality that they may be left with absolutely no options on the Obamacare individual market. Zero.  Many Virginians recently learned they could also have fewer choices on the Obamacare exchanges next year. In fact, people in 27 of the state’s 95 counties could have just one option for coverage through the Obamacare marketplace in 2018.  And Tennesseans in 16 counties are in a similarly distressing situation, as they too are likely to have just one choice when it comes to signing up for insurance through the Obamacare exchanges next year.

“These are just the latest developments in Obamacare’s dwindling options, which over the years have continuously pushed too many people off their plans and left them with fewer choices. Take one Knoxville, Tennessee, woman who recounted her experience in a recent news article.  In 2015, she signed up for an Obamacare plan with one major insurer, but at the end of the year, that company pulled out of the marketplace leaving her to find a new plan.  In 2016, she was forced to sign up for an Obamacare plan with another insurer. Again, at the end of the year, that company left the marketplace too.  And now in 2017, she’s signed up for yet another Obamacare plan with yet another insurer. And, you guessed it, at the end of this year that insurance company will also exit the Obamacare marketplace, leaving the Tennessee mom to find an alternative option once more.  Unfortunately, her story is not unique.

"As insurers on the exchanges continue to propose premium increases and announce their intentions for participation next year, we can expect even more troubling news to roll in.  These families deserve relief from Obamacare — a failing law with limited, even nonexistent, choices, which continue to shrink on the collapsing marketplace.  These families deserve relief from Obamacare — a failing law with skyrocketing premiums, which have risen by double-digit rate increases across the country.  These families deserve relief from Obamacare — a failing law with mandates, which require people to buy plans even if they aren’t right for their families, even if there are no suitable choices to pick from, even if they are too expensive to actually use.

“How much more will it take for our Democratic colleagues to realize we have to move beyond the failures of Obamacare?  The only way these families are going to get the help they need, and that so many have called for, is if we actually take action.  The Republican Senate has been clear that we aren’t OK with standing by and allowing this system to crash completely, dragging down even more families with it.  We know that, just like that collapsing bridge, Obamacare wasn’t built on a sturdy foundation nor were its policies truly built to last.  Just like the bridge, it may have looked really good from the outside — we all remember the lofty claims our Democratic colleagues made about the law — but it never lived up to the fanfare.  I know it’s a disappointing reality for our friends across the aisle who championed the failed health care law. We know it’s not the outcome they’d hoped for. But the status quo is simply unacceptable.

“We expect the Congressional Budget Office to release an updated score of the bill the House passed later today. It’s a technical procedural step. Beyond likely reiterating things we already know — like that fewer people will buy a product they don’t want when the government stops forcing them to — the updated report will allow the Senate procedurally to move forward in working to draft its own health-care legislation.  Whatever CBO says about the House bill today, this much is absolutely clear: the status quo under Obamacare is completely unacceptable and totally unsustainable.  Prices are skyrocketing, choice is plummeting, the marketplace is collapsing, and countless more Americans will get hurt if we don’t act.

“No one should be comfortable with that. I know I’m not. I certainly hope our Democratic colleagues aren’t.  So instead of continuing to hold press conferences in what ultimately can only be described as a defense of the Obamacare status quo, I’d ask our Democratic colleagues to come to terms with the situation Americans are facing, to stop the empty rhetoric, and to join us in finally helping those who’ve been hurt by this failing law.”

Related Issues: Health Care, Obamacare