Obamacare Price Hikes Put Public Option Back in Play

Obamacare is in trouble. With just two weeks to go before Election Day, the White House announced Monday that premiums on the healthcare law's state-level exchanges will increase by an average of 22 percent next year.

Premiums on the federal exchanges will jump an average of 25 percent.


All this comes, of course, after three major healthcare companies almost entirely pulled out of the exchanges because they said they couldn't afford all the sick people who were signing up for coverage.

As a result of these dropouts, 1 in 5 Americans looking to buy insurance on the exchanges have only one healthcare provider to choose from.

That's right -- one.

And while next year's premium hikes will be somewhat moderated by the often very generous subsidies Obamacare provides, there's still a sense out there that this isn't just a bump in the road but instead a preview of dark days to come for healthcare reform.

Of course, Republicans screaming about a death spiral are being disingenuous -- they've never had a healthcare reform plan and still don't have one 5 years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law -- but there is some truth to the Obamacare freak out.

For all the good things it does -- like do away with discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions -- the law still keeps in place the for-profit health insurance system, the root cause of most of our problems.

The most likely scenario to come out of this latest batch of Obamacare bad news is a few tweaks here and there, but that's not going to do much in the long run.

We have two choices here: we can either create a public option to inject some real competition into the market place, or we can work towards single-payer, i.e. Medicare-for-all.

Repeal is not an option, not when Obamacare is already in place and so many people have benefited and continue to benefit from it.

We can, however, use it as baseline to move forward.

But are Republicans willing to accept this reality?

That's the question.


leila's picture
leila 6 years 30 weeks ago

I am frustrated that the first year of a Clinton presidency will be taken up by rehashing the ACA. Now no other legislation will happen because Democrats would not take a stand 7 years ago and made sure a public option was included.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 30 weeks ago

Take it from a Canadian. If you want public healthcare you have to do it state by state like we did. if you believe it is the best option start in one state when the rest see how great it is they will follow. Every state has different needs. A national plan will fail. Most Americans think Canada has a national single payer system but that is far from the truth. It is done province by province. There is a federal act that forces each province to supply a minimum amount of coverage and the Fed does fund it to a degree but Fed does not run it keep in mind Canada has a 10th of the population of the US and 10 times the government owned resources to fund it. Healthcare is just very expensive.

Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 6 years 30 weeks ago

We're dying of malnutrition, From industrial farming, with all you can eat and DC has no idea.

LeeWenzel's picture
LeeWenzel 6 years 30 weeks ago

Or, as a third option we could eliminate all retrospective payers like the original HMO's and just sign up with a medical delivery system. Schools don't send out claims for every discreet service. Why should medical and health providers? The current Third Party Payers could calculate the cost for each of us using health risk, medical history, moral hazard, income and assets. A political process would need to determine the subsidies.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 6 years 30 weeks ago

Kend - For once, I have to agree with you. A one-size-fits-all health care system is NOT going to work in a country this size. But, whether we change state-by-state, or nation wide, no health care system is going to work until we remove the profiteers from the health care system; Obamacare is failing because the profiteers aren't making as much profit as they want. Heath care should not be a for-profit endeavor.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 30 weeks ago

ABC news reported today that the affordable care act was called Hillarycare before it was callled Obamacare???? I'll correct them: It was called Romneycare before Obamacare. It's always been a conservative/Teapublican Heritage Foundation plan to keep for profit health insurance .

Hillarycare would have worked...it was an early 1990's universal plan, but as usual, right- wing money and power won, and "We the People" got the shaft.

charlieaa 6 years 30 weeks ago

I have never figured out why health ins cos even exist. They provide no health nor care, right? They take premiums, then dole out IAW their actuarial tables and skim off the rest not just for humongous profit but also to plow back into their bought-off legislatore - Fed & State. What're we, stupid. Oh, yeah.

cccccttttt 6 years 30 weeks ago

Second the comments about a state by state approach.

But expect nothing to change.

Congress was designed for gentlemen farmers, and not the intense

party divide we now have in the US.


Uncle Ralph's picture
Uncle Ralph 6 years 30 weeks ago

What people don't know or don't remember is that health insurance costs were skyrocketing long before "Obama Care." The last three years I worked , I worked for a major defense contractor with pretty standard, pretty good healthcare options. I took the "high deductible, low premium" option because, up until then I had had very few medical expenses. The first year, the "high deductible" was $1,700. The second it was $2,600 and the third it was $3,700. It more than doubled in less that three calendar years. And this was not Obama Care. It was employer provided health insurance bennies. I'd had it for years and it had been going up steadily for years. When I worked for EG&G in the eighties it was free for the employee, with very affordable surcharges to cover the employee's family. By the time I retired, the Cadillac Plan cost the employee thousands a year and the employer was also paying thousands a year.

Of course, our Cadillac healthcare system, the most expensive in the world, does provide us with almost the 23rd-best healthcare outcomes in the world. So, you get what you pay for. Or, wait . . . Who gets the 22nd-best healthcare? And the the 21st-best? And the 10th-best for chrissake? We might want to rethink this whole deal.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 30 weeks ago

I should also mention. You guys are getting ripped off so badly on your medicine. I needed a eye drop here in Canada before my insurance plan it was $22.00 Canadian dollars about $16.00 US dollars in Scottsdale AZ it was $108.00 US Dollars same exact brand both at Safeway pharmacy, not even close. Maybe being the far right wing capitalists that I am I should start a medicine tourism business , for the love of god how can it be sooo much more by the way my insurance plan is $1,200 a year covers 90% of Meds , ambulance rides, and that is a private provider

country's picture
country 6 years 30 weeks ago

I agree Obama Care appears to be in trouble, however I think that was the idea all along. Obama Care is the response of an over-reaching government to challenges it is wholly unprepared to address. Now we live with the results!!! I know for me and my family we are being battered by outrageous costs for premiums and deductibles on one side and for profit insurance companies staying true to their first priority...remaining profitable on the other. What's wrong with us? How can we as Americans be so stupid as to permit government to play such a personal role in our lives? Oh sure poor Americans have access, non-Americans have access, wealthy have access, but those in the middle which makes up the majority...are made to suffer. To borrow from Hillary Clintons famous choice of words, how disgusting and deplorable that is. Well fine, destroy that foundation which made you great America and suffer the same fate of great countries who preceded you.

G3orjOrr's picture
G3orjOrr 6 years 30 weeks ago

I'm amazed, Country. You LIKE private, for-profit health insurance, with its exorbitant premiums, lifetime caps, denials of service, death panels sitting in judgment over whether or not you'll get the cancer treatment you need, booting you out or refusing to cover you for pre-existing conditions, canceling your coverage because you didn't tell them about a hang nail you had when you were ten years old, sucking every last dollar you ever put aside for your retirement, condemning you to live on the street or die in the gutter? You like that? 'Cuz that's what you're going to get if you manage to undo Obamacare. You're correct that Obamacare isn't working right, but your analysis is backward. It isn't government that's at fault -- it's those private insurers into whose loving arms you want to run. I can remember a time back in the '70s when for-profit medical insurance was against the law, and believe me, medical insurance was very affordable. I think I paid $35 a month for it and it covered just about everything. Then Ronnie became governor of California and later president and put an end to it, telling us that "competition was good for medical insurance and drug prices." Guess the verdict on that is in, and all you need to do is look at your medical insurance premiums to know that Reagan LIED. And meanwhile, Lewis Powell became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and lo and behold, corporations became people, my friend, and unlike most people I know, as soon as they got personhood, they assumed the right to rip you off for as much money as the economy could possibly stand. Same for Big Pharma. Do you know what a bottle of insulin cost in 1984? $35. Do you know what it costs now? Between $350 and $500. But ONLY in America, which has the greatest medical care system in the world (just ask Sean Hannity). One bottle of insulin lasts about 15 days. One bottle of long-acting insulin (Lantus) costs $750. It lasts one month and then goes into a well-timed decay. Diabetics don't have an option whether or not to take insulin, Country. They have to have it and have it right now in the prescribed quantity or they're dead. So what does Big Pharma do? They think -- "Hey, these people have to have insulin! This is a chance to make a lot of money!" This is not what the creators of insulin thought, nor what they intended. And don't talk to me about those poor Pharma companies needing all that money for research. That argument is b.s. What we're seeing in healthcare is symptomatic of a country that has run off the rails, and is now in the process of being run off a cliff by the sociopathic oligarchs who are going to ride it to the end (and then jump off). Now if corporations are people, these "people," namely these corporations, need to be arrested enjoy a brief trial, and then be executed. All of it -- ALL of it, the whole healthcare racket -- should be nationalized tomorrow, turned over to the government, and the for-profit private health insurance companies should be disbanded and their assets seized. And by the way, their CEOs should be arrested, their assets seized, and they should be imprisoned for a term of not less than 20 years and not to exceed 200 years. That's what you DO to people who've systematically killed other people. Same for the politicians they've bought and paid for. The current system cannot go on without serious, serious consequences beyond what we've already experienced. Either we stop it now, or it will stop us, the U.S.

Legend 6 years 30 weeks ago

They are voting on single payer in Colorado (Amendment 69) this election. The Insurance companies have attacked it with millions in donations against it. The single payer movement has virtually no money and no advertising.

Obama's biggest mistake was trying to work with the insurance companies.

mkghiglia's picture
mkghiglia 6 years 30 weeks ago

Colorado's Prop 69, otherwise known as ColoradoCare would be a test case for universal access to medical care. Like many needed progressive democratic ideas, this reform to Obamacare may start with the individual states.


Amendment 69 is a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that would establish a political subdivision of the state called “ColoradoCare.” The measure was designed to establish a statewide program to provide universal healthcare coverage and finance healthcare services for Colorado residents. Amendment 69 would not prevent people from purchasing private health insurance. A 21-member board of trustees would govern ColoradoCare. As ColoradoCare would operate as a cooperative, members would vote for candidates to serve on the co-op's board and decide whether taxes should be increased to provide additional funding to the program. To fund ColoradoCare, a 10 percent payroll tax would be implemented, with employers paying 6.67 percent and employees paying 3.33 percent. Other non-payroll income would also be taxed at 10 percent.[1][2]

ACA and state healthcare systems

A section of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows states to create their own healthcare systems. If given a waiver, Colorado would be eligible to receive subsidies that would otherwise go to state residents to use on the private market. This means that Colorado could receive federal funding towards ColoradoCare.

State of the ballot measure campaigns

Opponents, organized as Coloradans for Coloradans, had outraised supporters five-to-one, as of October 18, 2016. ColoradoCare Yes had received about $836,813, while opponents raised $4,048,293. The top donor to the “Yes” campaign was Lyn Gullette, who contributed $168 thousand. The top donor to the “No” campaign was health insurance firm Anthem, Inc., which provided $1 million. Polls indicate low support for Amendment 69, with 28.5 percent of voters supporting and 60.5 percent opposing the measure.

So...it does not look good, but I think the idea is sound and needs to be advanced.

country's picture
country 6 years 30 weeks ago

G3... I like having affordable access to healthcare for our family! I get your frustration with cost I have the same problem only different from yours probably.
Your comparison of 1984 and today sticks out to me. You know before you throw down on government as the great saviour think about what government has done for you. Private industry doesn't control monetary policy, print money, government does. Your/my dollar in 1984 was a lot stronger than today. What 35.00 in 1984 bought now takes over 200.00 to buy the same thing. Debt by government to subsidize all kinds of stuff we can't afford is diminishing your/my dollar and life. You want more of that? To many of us think like a frog in a pot.
We're not Europe either, we look across the pond through rose colored glasses.
What we need is a reality check!
Obama Care is awful. You pit a beaurocrat against business your gonna lose every time as a beaurocrat. The business will negotiate with the future in mind, the beaurocrat at best only sees as far out as re-election. Obama Care is a painful example of that. Subsidies to healthcare providers end this year from government. Healthcare providers pass added cost on to you/me. Business win, beurocrats lose...and retire with pension. You/me lose. The bigger the government...the smaller the people and vice versa. We have to start being big people, wise, selfless, and principled.
Colorado wants to empower government through taxation to provide healthcare. Their is no restraint in taxiation only control and plans, plans, plans. In economy their is restraint through competition and cost. Gets even better as government removes itself from the mix. Do you shop for variety and cost or do you always buy the most expensive product? Imagine their was only one product to choose and one price...expensive? That's government versus private.
It's amazing all of us as Americans are at this point to even have such a dialogue as this.

bdorsey63 6 years 30 weeks ago

THis is pretty easy math.

The annual fee for not having insurance in 2016 is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (up to $2,085 for a family), or it's 2.5% of your household income above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status – whichever is greater.

Healthy male making 32k/year the estimate is $234 per month or $2,807 per year
in premiums (which equals 8.77% of your household income).

Here is the logic

1. I can always sign up if i get illness because I cannot be deny pre-existing illness

2. I can pay 2800 per year and get health insurance I am not going to use

3. I can pay the pentaly, pay for my minor needs as I go, and the total is appx $695/year

Conculsion is that, I get catstrophic health care for $695/year.

Legend 6 years 30 weeks ago

The trouble with ColoradoCare is it is a bit complicated and the average voter is not taking the time to read it and understand it. Thus they will stick with corporate America gouging them.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to hartmannreport.com - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen