Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton vows to bolster and improve Obamacare, as she announced this week a sweeping new proposal to crack down on insurers to limit premium hikes and halt rising out-of-pocket health care costs.
She also announced Wednesday she will give lawmakers more power to reject rate hikes, scrutinize proposed mergers between insurance giants and “shine a light” on prices for medical services.
The Hill quoted her in a statement, saying, “With deductibles rising so much faster than incomes, we must act to reduce the out-of-pocket costs families face.”
Her plan also gives states more authority to block “excessive” premium increases, which has been optional for states under Obamacare.
Clinton’s proposal also includes new tax credits for low-income families:
- Under her plan, families would receive as much as $5,000 toward paying health care costs not already covered by their insurance companies.
- Individuals could receive up to $2,500 based on their income. Insurance plans would also have to cover three sick visits per year that don’t count toward deductibles.
Insurance Companies and Republicans Rebuke Clinton
The Hill quoted Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the insurance industry’s top lobby group, saying Obamacare has already capped out-of-pocket costs and imposed new restrictions on premium increases.
“What the law didn’t do is address underlying health care costs,” Krusing wrote in a statement, while condemning extra costs for insurers under the law such as the health insurance tax.
The Wall Street Journal quoted The Republican National Committee, saying that Mrs. Clinton’s proposals were “a tacit admission that the president’s health law hasn’t succeeded.”
“Doubling down on the same principles is only a recipe for more failure,” said spokesman Michael Short. “Rather than putting the federal government in even more control, Hillary Clinton should focus on market-based reforms that would actually lower costs and expand access.”
Premiums and Deductibles Rising
Five years after President Obama signed the Obamacare, premiums for work-based health insurance have risen 24 percent since 2010, and deductibles have soared 67 percent, according to the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET study. Both premiums and deductibles have risen much faster than wages, which are only up 10 percent; meanwhile inflation has increased 9 percent during the same time period. Also, nearly half of workers must $1,000 in deductibles before their insurance even kicks in; that’s up from 10 percent in 2006.
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.
Sarah Ferris, “Clinton vows crackdown on insurers to limit out-of-pocket costs,” The Hill, September 23, 2015: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/254665-clinton-vows-crackdown-on-insurers-to-limit-out-of-pocket-health-costs
Lousie Radnofsky, “Hillary Clinton Aims to Limit Consumers’ Health-Insurance Costs,” The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2015: http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-aims-to-limit-consumers-health-insurance-costs-1443027891
“2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey,” Kaiser Family Foundation, September 22, 2015: http://kff.org/health-costs/report/2015-employer-health-benefits-survey/