A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation underlines that many of the promises surrounding President Obama’s health care legislation remain unfulfilled, though the White House argues that change is coming.
Workers at the Flora Venture flower shop in Newmarket, NH, remember when presidential candidate named Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., promised that their health care costs would go down if they elected him and his health care plan was enacted.
On May 3, 2008, the president told voters that he had “a health care plan that would save the average family$2,500 on their premiums.”
Last year workers at the flower shop saw their insurance premiums shoot up 41 percent.
“I basically work for the health care payments,” says manager Pat Cowhig, whose husband has medical issues.
The Kaiser Family Foundation shows family premiums topped $15,000 a year for the first time in 2011, increasing a whopping 9% this year, three times more than the increase the year before. The study says that up to 2% of that increase is because of the health care law’s provisions, such as allowing families to add grown children up to 26 years old to their policies.
So what about that $2,500 in savings the president pledged? White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle insists families will see that savings — by 2019.
“Many of the changes in the Affordable Care Act are starting this year, and in succeeding years,” DeParle told ABC News, “and by 2019 we estimate that the average family will save around $2,000.”
DeParle said that the “big increases that occurred last year were probably driven by insurance plans overestimating what the impact would be and maybe trying to take some profits upfront before some of the changes in the Affordable Care Act occur.
The Kaiser study also indicates employers are switching plans and shifting costs onto employees. Half of workers in smaller firms now face “deductibles of at least $1,000, including 28 percent facing deductibles of $2,000 or more,” according to the study.
Flora Venture’s new policy increased the deductible employees pay to $5,000.
Doesn’t that fly in the face of the president’s promise that “if you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan”? ABC News asked DeParle.
She said no — the president wasn’t saying the legislation would guarantee that everyone can keep his or her preferred plan, just that the legislation wouldn’t force anyone to change.
“What the president promised is that under health care reform, that he would make it more possible for people to have choices in these (health insurance) exchanges,” DeParle said. “And that’s going to be what will help businesses bring costs down. Right now, they’re just struggling. That’s one reason why they’re shifting costs to employees.”
DeParle said that “once health care reform fully takes hold in 2014 and beyond, employers will have more tools and more ability to help bring down costs,” she said, including the new health insurance exchanges.