Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton admitted Monday at a campaign event that she does not know or understand how Obamacare raised a small business owner’s healthcare costs by $500 a month.
Clinton was participating in a discussion with women and families on work-life balance in Lorton, Virginia, when a small business owner expressed her concerns over the Affordable Care Act's role in raising health care costs and causing business owners to struggle with the consequences.
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"I have seen our health insurance for my own family go up $500 a month in the last two years, so we went from 400 something to 900 something," the woman explained to Clinton. "We’re just fighting to keep benefits for ourselves. The thought of being able to provide benefits to your employees is almost secondary. Yet to keep your employees happy, that’s a question that comes across my desk all the time."
The small business owner described how she is forced to keep most of her employees as independent contractors and sees many workers leave as a result for other opportunities where there are benefits.
"If I can’t provide benefits let alone for myself, I can’t provide them for my family," she continued, adding that the reason her health insurance has gone up so much is that she does not qualify for a subsidy under Obamacare because she "unfortunately make[s] just over too much money within that gap."
"So, I guess my question to you is not only are you looking out for people that can’t afford health care. I’m someone that can afford it, but it’s taking a big chunk out of the money I bring home for myself."
"What you’re saying is one of the real worries that we’re facing with the cost of health insurance because the costs are going up in a lot of markets—not all but many markets," Clinton responded. "Right now, like with so many of these programs, there’s just a cut off instead of what I would like to see a kind of gradual diminishment."
Clinton argued that there should not be a single income figure that determines whether someone qualifies for a subsidy or not, adding that the government needs to look at issues with out of pocket costs such as premiums and deductibles.
"But I mean that’s my point," Clinton said. "It’s like what could have possibly raised your costs [$500], and that’s what I don’t understand. We’ve got to pick that apart to really make sure we understand it."
The former first lady shifted the blame to private insurance companies, saying that "we have to make the insurance companies justify what they are charging because a lot of them are moving costs up without really explaining, or at least to my satisfaction, why that’s happening."
She also said non-profit organizations somehow need a larger role in the health care market and that she favors a "public option" so people can buy into Medicare above a certain age to help alleviate the costs.
"Because a [$500] increase, assuming you didn’t have some terrible health care, which it doesn’t sound like you did—"
"I go to the gym. I don’t go to the doctor," the small business owner interjected.
Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, suggested in March that her mother would use unilateral executive action to keep health care costs down for those who have to pay "crushing" costs under Obamacare.
Hillary Clinton said last year that the Affordable Care Act turns full-time jobs into part-time jobs as employers try to keep their own costs down.