On Wednesday, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it would pull out of Wisconsin’s health insurance market, making it the fifth health insurer to leave the state’s marketplace since the implementation of President Barack Obama’s disastrous health care law, ironically coined the Affordable Care Act.
This devastating development will leave thousands of Wisconsinites without their preferred health insurance at the end of this year — another blow to a state that’s been hit repeatedly with a string of knocks dealt by the repercussions of Obamacare.
Since Obamacare went into effect, Wisconsin health care consumers have seen a 93% premium increase on the individual market. In fact, the average premium costs nearly $3,000 more today than it did in 2013, and the average deductible costs $830 more today than in 2014.
Furthermore, approximately 115,000 Wisconsin families paid $22 million in penalties to the Internal Revenue Service in 2014 because the cost of insurance plans under Obamacare was so high that it was more financially prudent to pay the fee than purchase insurance. Sixteen counties have two or fewer choices of health insurance providers in 2017.
Obamacare doesn’t work. It’s failing before our eyes. And as bad as it has been in Wisconsin, some other states have seen even higher price increases and more limited options.
Throughout the country, Obamacare has more than doubled premiums for health care consumers, who are facing double-digit premium hikes heading into next year. National deductibles under Obamacare are jumping higher than $6,000 on average for a basic health insurance plan, and roughly 6.5 million Americans paid approximately $3 billion in penalties to the IRS rather than signing up for Obamacare.
During a recent visit to Milwaukee, Vice President Mike Pence highlighted these figures and spoke to the severity of the problem Wisconsin, and the nation, faces under Obamacare.
He noted that next year, most of Tennessee will only have one insurer under Obamacare. In Iowa, almost the entire state could have no insurance plans to choose from. This is likewise true for 25 counties in Missouri.
These are more than just devastating statistics — they affect the lives of real people. They took President Obama at his word when he said that health insurance costs would go down under this new plan.
President Obama broke his promises to the American people. Thankfully, the Republicans have put forth a plan to make good on those promises and give hope back to those who have been let down by the failures of Obamacare and those who continue to peddle it.
Last year, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan published his Better Way agenda, which served as the blueprint for what would become the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Through the AHCA, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans outlined a solution that provides Americans with more choices at lower cost. It expands Health Savings Accounts and a new tax credit to help buy insurance at an affordable price. It protects access for individuals with pre-existing conditions, allows children ages 26 and younger to remain on their parents’ insurance plans, and it reforms and strengthens Medicaid to help those who need it most.
Most importantly, the AHCA put Americans — not government — in control of their health care. That means that despite recent and ongoing reports of the breakdown of Obamacare in Wisconsin and nationwide, there is room for hope and optimism, both of which I have in the Republican plan and the abilities of Congress to pass and sign into law by the end of this year.
Jim Sensenbrenner is a Republican congressman representing Wisconsin’s fifth district.
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