Remember back during the 2016 GOP primary, when then-candidate Donald Trump told CBS News that under his health care plan, “I am going to take care of everybody… The government’s gonna pay for it”?
Well, according to some statistics and data published by Axios last week, it looks like that’s turning out to be exactly right. According to Axios, the government– by which I mean you and me and every other taxpayer– is paying a lot more for people’s health care than we were before. And individual consumers are paying a lot less. That is by definition a shift towards single-payer care, even if it’s not a shift to Medicare-for-all ( which is just one specific single payer proposal).
Over to Axios (my emphasis in bold):
The vast majority of ACA enrollees get a federal subsidy to help pay their premiums. Last year, the average value of that subsidy was $383. This year, it leapt to $550.
Consumers receiving those subsidies paid less out of their own pockets, too. Last year, they paid an average $106 per month after subsidies. This year, their share fell to $89.
All of this is a result of President Trump’s decision to cut off the ACA’s cost-sharing payments. That move prompted insurers to raise their premiums in a way that triggered big spikes in the premium subsidies — which ultimately is more expensive for the government than simply funding the cost-sharing payments.
The big picture: Expect this trend to continue.
While I’m not arguing that Trump should or should not have continued Obamacare’s cost-sharing payments, I am arguing that Republicans haven’t come up with anything that moves us further away from single-payer becoming a reality. I’m personally delighted at the scrapping of the individual mandate, since I’ve been a critic of that since Mitt Romney championed it all the way back in 2006 with RomneyCare. But it’s not real root-and-branch reform that is required to truly shift American health care in a free market direction, or frankly bring down health care (let alone health insurance) costs.
I doubt that Trump understands the nuances of health care policy well enough to know that when he ditched the cost-sharing payments, he was inadvertently moving us closer to the kind of health care system he has repeatedly endorsed over decades (with his pro-Canadian system and pro-UK/Scotland National Health Service comments, which he continued right through 2015).
But it seems to be the inadvertent effect, and it’s hard to believe that Trump, an avowed supporter of single payer systems of which there are many types, and even fully socialized systems– as exist in the UK– would be unhappy to learn of this particular side effect.