Obamacare Has Struck Again in Montana

Skyrocketing premiums are crushing but not surprising

By Steve Daines

Obamacare continues to be a train wreck in Montana.

Insurance providers recently proposed astronomical premium increases on individuals and families for 2017. The most popular carrier is asking for an average increase of 62 percent on the individual market. This comes on top of higher premiums this year.

It is time to sound the alarm.

The skyrocketing premiums are crushing but not surprising. They are the natural result of Obamacare’s fundamental flaws.

The law imposed heavy insurance regulations dictated from Washington. Obamacare backers gave false assurances that these regulations would be bearable if enough people signed up for the program.

Don’t worry, we were told, an insurance mandate and rapidly growing Obamacare tax penalty against those without insurance would ensure sufficient participation. But enrollment in the Obamacare exchange is far below expectations as millions of Americans are saying, “No thanks.” And we’re still not seeing anywhere near the number of healthier beneficiaries on Obamacare’s exchange necessary to make the program financially sustainable.

Don’t worry, we were also told, because over the coming decade Obamacare will spend nearly one trillion taxpayer dollars to try to make coverage affordable. But even with all this spending, 35,000 Montanans on the individual market don’t receive any government aid and must bear the higher premium costs themselves.

Equally troubling, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that Obamacare’s costly subsidies will encourage millions of Americans to stop looking for higher-paying jobs. Creating disincentives to work is another terrible Obamacare legacy.

If premium increases aren’t bad enough, deductibles are also growing. Fewer than half of Montanans who buy from the exchange are protected from higher out-of-pocket costs that are becoming a cruel feature of many Obamacare plans. And the tens of thousands of Montanans on the individual market who receive no premium subsidies likewise must shoulder these higher deductibles themselves.

Taken together, Obamacare is raiding Montanans’ hard-earned money – and in return they aren’t getting what was promised to them – quality healthcare.

But it gets worse. Obamacare’s exchange in Montana is so unstable that those who received coverage are at risk of losing it in the future. Don’t be deceived by Obamacare supporters who tout increases in coverage. If the current course continues – and there are many reasons to believe it will – competition on the exchange could dry up, costs will continue to skyrocket and choices of doctors will diminish.

In full bloom, Montanans could lose their current coverage altogether. It would become a new and even more devastating version of Obamacare’s first broken promise, “If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.”

Obamacare’s regulate, tax, and spend formula is clearly failing Montanans. But what is President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s proposed fix? More intervention from Washington, this time in the shape of new government-run insurance plans. Their proposal is the wrong solution and would only manage to make matters worse.

On top of that, there shouldn’t be any more taxpayer bailouts of insurance companies as some are arguing are necessary, which would increase your costs.

Montanans deserve the financial security and access to care that health insurance can provide. But they also deserve a viable system that won’t leave them in the lurch.

As your voice in our nation’s capital, I’m committed to returning power to states to make health policy decisions. We also need to incentivize getting insurance without unleashing tax penalties on Montanan families. And most of all, we need patient-centered solutions that improve the quality of care while driving costs lower.

Obamacare is a defining issue of our time. Tragically, it is imposing severe hardships on many Montanans. The latest proposed premium increases show that its survival in Montana is in serious doubt. It’s time to repeal and replace this law with solutions that work for Montanans.

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