Despite premium hikes and absent competition, Missouri Democratic candidate Jason Kander is among many state politicians vowing to protect Obamacare at any cost. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
This election is giving me a sense of déjà vu. Specifically, 2016 is beginning to remind me of 2010 in one crucial way.
Six years ago, I traveled the country for months on end, listening to hardworking Americans tell me about their frustration with Obamacare and their fear of how it would harm them. I saw firsthand the unprecedented groundswell of grassroots opposition to President Obama’s signature law.
And on Election Day, I watched as voters overwhelmingly rejected the politicians who passed it.
Fast forward to today. Now the American people have seen Obamacare up close–and their initial fears were proven right. With only days to go until election day, millions Americans are facing steep increases with averages that are rising by 25% nationwide for the most popular plans.
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This comes after millions have already experienced a seemingly never-ending stream of canceled plans, rising premiums and deductibles, and fewer choices.
As I’ve talked with folks across the country in recent weeks, I’ve heard the same growing frustration as six years ago. Voters are angry with the politicians who support this obviously failing law–and come Election Day, they’re going to do something about it.
Many states with critical U.S. Senate elections could be ground zero for this phenomenon. The media is drawing attention to Obamacare’s problems in these states for good reason.
Take Indiana, where Evan Bayh cast a deciding vote for Obamacare in 2009 and then retired. Now he’s running again–and his vote is haunting him. Obamacare is pummeling Hoosiers, with premiums rising by nearly 13%. The most popular insurer, with 70,000 consumers, is hiking rates by nearly 30%.
Two states away in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold was bragging about his vote for Obamacare less than two weeks before his constituents voted him out of office. He’s back again, too, but the 240,000 Wisconsinites facing rate hikes of over 20% and roughly $6,000 average deductibles for the cheapest plans may not be happy to see him.
Not every Senate candidate voted for Obamacare, but that hasn’t stopped some from embracing it with open arms. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto has called Obamacare a “good law,” while Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania has promised to “work every day to defend and build” on it.
Many voters in both states disagree. Beyond the double-digit average premium hikes in Nevada, the state’s co-op, covering a third of the state, exchange collapsed last year and all two-thirds of the Silver State’s counties will have only one insurer to choose from in 2017.
Pennsylvania is in a similar boat–173,000 consumers are looking at zero competition on the exchange–and premiums are potentially rising by more than 32%. Nearly 100,000 Pennsylvanians are being kicked off their plans, too.
The list keeps going. In Florida, Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy has voted nine times for Obamacare in the House of Representatives, saying it will “create more competition and help to bring down costs.” The reality: Floridians can expect their healthcare premiums to increase an average of over 17% next year and nearly three-quarters of Sunshine State counties will have only one insurer–meaning over 350,000 people will have no meaningful choice.
The last two I’ll mention are Missouri and North Carolina.
Local lawmakers–Jason Kander and Deborah Ross, respectively–are running for Senate on platforms that include defending Obamacare at any cost. But insurers in both states are raising premiums by nearly 25%. As for choice, 85% of North Carolinians buying Obamacare coverage–over 400,000 people–will only have one insurer to choose from.
The problems playing out in these states are, unsurprisingly, happening all over the nation.
Obamacare premiums from coast to coast are rising into the double digits, and while not every individual or family will pay these hikes, they’re still on the hook for deductibles that are already an average of $3,000 for the most popular plans and over $5,600 for the runner-ups—numbers that will also rise next year. No wonder 55% of Americans say they’re paying more for healthcare.
And while costs are rising, choice is plummeting. Narrow network plans are already expected to represent 75% of the Obamacare market across a survey of key states. As for choice of plans themselves, nearly a third of all U.S. counties will have a sole insurer–up more than 300%.
Behind these numbers are millions of hardworking people who have stories to tell. When I’ve traveled across America in recent months, I’ve gone door-to-door and listened to people talk about how Obamacare has harmed them, a family member, a friend or a neighbor. They can’t escape it.