Despite enjoying a victory in the Supreme Court this summer, the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic law, has suffered through a year of bad news.
While the administration has touted that nearly 12 million people have gained access to health care insurance, premiums for most Americans are expected to increase in 2016. Insurance companies are seeking rate increases between 20 and 40 percent.
To keep premiums down, some Americans will be forced to switch plans and, therefore, may be forced to switch doctors as well. In some cases plans are "hollowed out" with limited choices in doctors and hospitals. Many experts complain the health care law is to blame for America’s new "under-insured problem." In 2013, President Obama was awarded Politifact’s Lie of the Year for his infamous promise: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."
"Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it's worth the money," Jesse Ellis O’Brien of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group said.
The Department of Health and Human Services maintains that premium increases will be offset by federal subsidies provided to Americans who use the health care exchanges.
The troubles of Obamacare do not end with increased costs, however.
The cooperative health insurers (co-ops) established by the ACA are falling at an alarming rate. In 2015 co-ops in Louisiana, Nevada, New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah all closed down. That accounts for nearly half of all of the co-ops in the country.
In February, 800,000 taxpayers who used HealthCare.gov to acquire their insurance policies were given incorrect tax information and thus forced to hold off on filing their tax returns until the issue was sorted out. President Obama was also forced to extend the application period to give millions of Americans more time to buy a plan and avoid tax penalties.
Political headwinds in Congress are pushing members from both parties to pursue a repeal of certain parts of Obamacare. Democratic lawmakers have called for the end of both the Medical Device Tax and Cadillac Tax.