Florida state officials recently approved an average health insurance premium increase of 19 percent. And these hikes come after state officials raised rates 9.5 percent last year and 13.2 percent in 2014.
But this year, those of us who call the Sunshine State home can help prevent skyrocketing costs from becoming the new norm. When we go to the ballot box this November, we have the chance to make the U.S. Senate election a referendum on Obamacare.
The reality is that Floridians have already expressed their wishes: they don’t want to keep the collapsing health care law. That was clear in the spring of 2015 when the majority of Floridians opposed expanding Medicaid, which was in effect a backdoor effort to lock Florida into Obamacare.
That’s not surprising since Floridians have experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of the law. Many residents don’t know how they will afford a nearly 20 percent increase in health insurance premiums. And for individuals on some plans, the increase is far worse. For example, more than 92,000 people who will likely be insured by Humana are looking at an average increase of 37 percent.
That could mean that for a family of four currently paying $4,500 a year, they may need to find an additional $1,700 a year just to meet their premium cost.
But it’s not just premiums that are on the rise; out-of-pocket costs keep escalating too. From 2015 to 2016, deductibles increased by an average of nearly $1,000. That means that patients must pay an additional $1,000 toward any medical expenses before insurance will kick in and cover the costs. So individuals are paying more for health insurance, but getting less in return. Most of the cheapest plans now have deductibles of over $5,000, with some closing in on $6,200. That’s money Floridians can’t use to pay their bills and save for the future.
No wonder patients told The New York Times that Obamacare insurance is “all but useless.”
The higher costs, however, are only one side of the bad bargain. Equally disheartening is the dwindling choice on the exchanges. Since Obamacare went into effect, Floridians now have almost a third of the insurance options they had before the exchanges. Now, all but 10 of Florida’s counties only have one or two insurers to choose from on the exchange. As is the case in most marketplaces, fewer choices mean less competition — which leads to higher costs and lower quality.
Many customers who do purchase care on the exchanges can’t find doctors covered under their plans.
Floridians now know beyond a doubt that further entrenching Obamacare would only result in higher costs and more harm to countless friends, family and neighbors. So for those who think Obamacare isn’t working, the vote for U.S. Senate seat must exclude the candidate who has proudly backed the law — and wants to expand it.
If we elect politicians who are committed to the failed health care law, we can expect that costs will only further escalate while choice and quality care continue to deteriorate. That would not only endanger Floridians, but people across the country.
Floridians have a critical role to play in the nation’s health care future. And the only way to reverse the hardships of Obamacare is to elect principled leaders who will put the people before failing big-government programs that worsen care for millions of Americans.
Chris Hudson is the Florida state director of Americans for Prosperity.