Health insurance is never free. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that health care spending increased by 7.5 percent in 2010 and will grow by 8 percent this year, and will rise by another 8.5 percent in 2012.
A big reason why health spending continues to grow is because more and more Americans have health insurance. Contrary to what advocates of Obamacare claimed, expanded health insurance coverage increases health care spending, it doesn’t decrease spending.
Just look at Massachusetts where former Gov. Mitt Romney’s health care reform “succeeded” in expanding health care coverage to all but 1.9 percent of the population. But while almost everyone in Massachusetts has health insurance, they are paying more and more for it, thanks to Romneycare.
Health insurance premiums are rising across the entire country, but a study by the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, found that premiums are rising even faster in the Bay State than elsewhere.
The Massachusetts study found that “high premium growth has discouraged job and employment growth, including especially the creation of jobs that offer health benefits.”
The Beacon Hill Institute released a report last week that put a number on the job- killing effects of Romneycare. According to Beacon Hill, the increased health care spending caused by Romneycare has decreased spending on other investments, leading to 18,313 fewer jobs created in 2010 than otherwise would have been created had Romneycare not become law.
And not only is expanded health insurance killing jobs, it is also undermining existing health insurance coverage. Already, government-provided Medicaid health care coverage is often worse than no insurance coverage at all.
A recent Government Accountability Office survey found that primary care physicians are far less likely to see a new patient covered by Medicaid than they are to see a patient with no insurance at all.
Not only do uninsured patients pay more for their services than Medicaid patients do, but the Medicaid payment system is a huge hassle that many doctors would rather skip all together.
And Obamacare will only make this situation worse. Over half of all the insurance coverage obtained through Obamacare is expected to be provided by Medicaid. But many of the states that already have liberal Medicaid eligibility requirements, like California, are being forced to water down the coverage they provide.
California already spends less per Medicaid beneficiary than any other state, but now they are seeking to cut doctor payments even further and even limit Medicaid beneficiaries to seven visits a year.
“Health reform is badly in need of success stories, and early success in California could add decisive momentum,” Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman told The Los Angeles Times. “But if California bogs down, or if there is an implementation failure, it would be a huge negative for the whole implementation effort nationally.”
Maybe the rest of the nation should draw a lesson from California and Massachusetts: More government-run health insurance isn’t the answer to our nation’s health care problems.
Conn Carroll is associate editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.