Trump Keeps Lying About Obamacare

Trump Keeps Lying About Obamacare June 19, 2017

Okay, so Trump keeps lying about practically everything, every day, virtually every time he opens his mouth (or picks up his Twitter machine). But as he tries to get Congress to pass a bill to replace Obamacare (a bill he doesn’t understand), he’s really cranking out the lies about that law.


“Americans were told that premiums would go down by $2,500 per year. And instead, their premiums went up to levels that nobody thought even possible.”

“It was just announced yesterday that 2 million people have dropped out of Obamacare — 2 million additional. They are leaving fast.”

“Insurers are fleeing the market. Last week it was announced that one of the largest insurers is pulling out of Ohio — the great state of Ohio.”

–President Trump, remarks to Republican senators, June 13, 2017

That first one is kind of important. Insurance premiums had gone up way, way faster than the rate of inflation prior to the passage of the ACA for years and years. So we can go back and look at the rate of increase before and after Obamacare and compare the two. Guess what? The rate of increase in health insurance premiums went way down. In fact, they went down much more than merely $2500.

But here’s the funny thing: Health costs for employer-provided plans have grown much slower than expected since the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Experts debate whether the ACA played a significant role, but the average family premium is now almost $3,600 lower than if premium growth had kept pace with the rate in the decade before the law was passed, according to Kaiser.

Kaiser estimated that cumulative premium increases were 63 percent for 2001-2006, 31 percent for 2006-2011 and 20 percent for 2011-2016.

More recently, Pence has asserted “the average premium cost today is nearly $3,000 a year more for Americans than it was in 2013.” Why the $2,000 decrease? He’s now citing an HHS report that claimed Obamacare premiums have increased 105 percent from 2013 to 2017. But there are problems with that report.

First, it’s difficult to simply compare average health insurance premiums in the individual market before and after the ACA because the law eliminated insurance plans with low costs but few benefits — what the Congressional Budget Office says barely qualifies as insurance. One study found that, when adjusting for actuarial value to create an apples-to-apples comparison, individual-market premiums actually dropped after the introduction of the ACA

The same is true of the claim that 2 million people have dropped out. This was true only if you suddenly change the measurement to the number of people who paid premiums on policies procured through the exchanges as of Jan. 31st, compared to previous measurements that went to March 31st. That cuts out everyone who secures a policy in February and March, but compares the number to an entirely different, invariably larger, pool of insured people. In other words, it’s a statistical lie.

As for the claim that insurance companies are dropping out, that’s true of some companies in some places, but many of those companies have announced their decision to leave the exchange by pointing to the Trump administration’s lack of assurances that it would continue to follow the law and pay the same cost-sharing payments to them that were originally promised. Trump has made noise about changing the deal even without a repeal of the ACA or replacing it with anything, which has made things far less predictable for the insurance companies. They could get stuck paying out everything up front and not getting reimbursed as promised in the ACA. So rather than a lie, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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