Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Out-Of-Empty-Pocket

InsideWashingtonHealthcare costs continue to rise despite Obamacare

By Carol Hatcher

No one knew how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would look in action. When President Obama signed the official act in March of 2010, there were many predictions, but no one knew for sure. Proponents drew theoretical pictures of reasonable healthcare for all Americans, while those against it criticized its every detail, noting the impossibility of making what looks good on paper come to life.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, was purported to increase the quality and decrease the cost of insurance. In addition, it was to lower the number of uninsured individuals. From the Obamacare Facts website, “It makes insurance more affordable by reducing premium and out-of-pocket costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who had been priced out of coverage in the past.” President Obama dreamed that no American would go without coverage.

As the old adage says, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” If more people are getting covered, who is going to pay? The answer appears to be the American people. According to a report by actuaries from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal Obamacare administrator, health care costs are on the rise.

In 2012, the amount spent on national healthcare rose to $2.8 trillion. In 2013, there was a 3.8 percent premium rise, and the first three months of 2014 saw the fastest rise in healthcare spending since 1980. President Obama promised in his health plan that the typical American family would see $2,500 in savings a year. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Perhaps those who are feeling the increase the most are those who are enrolled in employer-sponsored family heath insurance, which makes up the majority of policy holders.

It’s not accurate to look at the cost of health insurance alone without comparing it to the increase in wages in full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. From 2009 to 2014, the average premium cost for employer-sponsored insurance premiums grew at a rate of 4.7 percent in comparison to the 2.2 percent increase in annual earnings for FTE employees. That means premium costs under the ACA grew more than two and a half times the rate of wages.

The CMS actuaries predict this increase in spending to continue with a growth of 5.6 percent in 2014, 4.9 percent in 2015 and 6.1 percent every year after that through 2023. Obamacare isn’t the only element in the increased spending, though. An aging population and the recovering economy also play into the equation. Finger pointing aside, the outcome is the same – Americans are coming out-of-pocket to pay for their health more and more.

The one thing all Americans can agree on is this: the healthcare system is tricky to maneuver. Premiums are just one piece of the over-spending pie. Many who enrolled in Obamacare are finding it hard to locate doctors who will treat them, especially those looking for specialists. Doctors say physician reimbursement rates have gone down in recent years before the ACA, and by accepting patients with Obamacare, they expect paybacks to be even smaller. So patients enrolled in the program are driving further to find doctors willing to accept them. The rising cost of gas and its usage to get to a physician doesn’t even play into the actuary numbers, but perhaps it should.

So what do the American people think of Obamacare? One opinion poll in July of 2014 asked whether the new laws had helped or hurt families. Eighteen percent felt they had been helped, 35 percent claimed they were worse off, 46 percent were about the same and one percent had no opinion. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change as more people have experience with the Act.

Healthcare is a big deal. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every four adults has two or more chronic health conditions. Those are the people who require daily medication and/or constant management by a doctor. That number doesn’t include the millions who are sick with viruses and other diseases. This is an issue that isn’t going away.

Whether you are for or against Obamacare, one thing remains the same – Americans need to pray for President Obama, the many doctors in this country and the millions of people affected by the ACA, whether positive or negative. God is able to heal even this.

Carol Hatcher is a former elementary school teacher turned writer, and is a regular contributor to the Vantage Point devotional series. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Buford, GA.



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