ObamaCare popularity has gradually risen since implementation in 2014. I wrote about this nearly three months ago in a post called Popularity of ObamaCare Shifts. At that time polls showed approval of ObamaCare had reached 50% with 39% opposition.
Some of the reasons for this growth in popularity were media bias, Democratic demagoguery and Republican failures to communicate. But mostly it had to do with the fact that Americans most often get their healthcare from their employers so changes in prices don’t seem to affect them much. About 180 million Americans fall into this category.
But that popularity is about to change. A recent poll of employers by The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the annual premiums for an employer-provided family plan rose another 5%, now topping the $20,000 per year threshold. The average plan costs your employer $20,576. Employers bore 71% of that cost while employees paid the rest.
Anna Wilde Mathews, writing in The Wall Street Journal, calls this “a landmark that will likely resonate politically as health care has become an early focus of the presidential campaign.” Drew Altman, chief executive of KFF says, “It’s a milestone. It’s the cost of buying an economy car, just buying it every year.”
Sooner or later the rising cost of employer-provided health insurance had to impact employees. Up until now it has mostly impacted them in the form of delayed wage increases but now it’s actually affecting out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. The average annual amount workers paid toward premiums for the family plans grew 8% to $6,015 this year. The average deductible for single coverage, which employees pay out of their pockets before insurance kicks in, went up as well, to $1,655.
This means the popularity of even employer-provided healthcare is going to decline soon as workers realize the rising cost of healthcare insurance is really impacting their paychecks. This will mean an opportunity for politicians to promote their new ideas about healthcare.
For Democrats this will mean single-payer healthcare currently being promoted under the guise of Medicare For All. For Republicans it will mean a return to market-driven reforms they tried to pass last Congress and would have succeeded but for a few renegades like Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Rand Paul. Healthcare is sure to be a big topic in the presidential campaign and both sides need to sharpen their arguments.