The Trump administration, which has long struggled between a desire to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and the political realities of doing so, decided to go for it Monday night. In a one-page filing, the Department of Justice said the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals should affirm a lower-court ruling that Obamacare’s individual mandate is now unconstitutional, and that the whole law is therefore invalid.
For years, Republicans have argued that this is what Americans should want — and that Obamacare has been a failure. The editorial board of the Charlotte Observer has long explained why that isn’t true, but in case you’ve forgotten why, let’s step back a decade once again. Here’s what life was like before Obamacare:
People hated the health care system: Before the Affordable Care Act’s arrival, a vast majority of Americans wanted health care and insurance reform, including 82 percent in one 2008 poll. Why? By 2008, health care costs were skyrocketing and insurance plans covered less.
Now, Americans feel differently about their health care. Despite years of Republicans demonizing Obamacare, 50 percent of Americans look favorably on it, with only 37 percent having an unfavorable opinion, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Ask about Obamacare’s specific features, and the numbers get even better.
Premiums were going up rapidly: Remember the annual groan at the rising cost of your employer’s health plan? Between 2000 and 2010, average family premiums for employer coverage grew 8 percent per year — a perpetual burden on Americans’ budgets. In the past nine years, that growth has slowed to an average of 5 percent a year.
Women paid more than men: Women buying insurance on the individual market before Obamacare were often charged more than men — a practice known as “gender rating.” Obamacare made that illegal.
People were afraid to change jobs: Leaving a job to go out on your own is hard enough, but that leap used to also mean walking away from affordable premiums. For some, leaving or switching jobs might bring a greater risk; if you had a pre-existing condition, insurance companies could refuse to sell you new coverage. That fear of health care consequences kept people bound to the job they had, a phenomenon common enough to have a name: “job lock.”
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER