- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2010

Basic economics dictate that you can’t increase health care coverage on the scale mandated by Obamacare without increasing the costs required to provide it. It’s a fact upon which economists from Keynes to Hayek would agree. Yet it’s a concept President Obama and the Democratic Congress haven’t seemed to grasp, leaving the American public stuck paying the tab for Mr. Obama’s grand experiment.

Last week, the Connecticut Insurance Department granted approval for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to begin raising premiums by nearly 23 percent, beginning Oct. 1, to cover the cost of new so-called benefits mandated by Obamacare. This is no isolated example - every major insurance provider in the state is following suit, seeking approval for increases as high as 24.7 percent.

What’s happening in Connecticut is only the first stage of a chain reaction that will lead to considerable increases in premiums across the entire country. These increases are only the beginning, measures designed to cope with a comparatively small portion of legal mandates imposed by Obamacare, the bulk of which won’t come into effect until 2014, when premiums surely will skyrocket even further.

So what are the driving forces behind the snowballing costs imposed by Obamacare?

Beginning last Thursday, providers are prohibited from requiring co-payments and deductibles on a wide range of preventative care services. This is nothing more than an Enron-style accounting trick, using smoke and mirrors to force patients to pay in the form of higher premiums rather than at the doctor’s office.

Another provision attempts to redefine childhood, asserting as a matter of law that adults as old as 26 can remain on their parents’ plans even if they don’t live with their parents and are completely independent financially.

Finally, providers are required to increase annual coverage limits to no less than $750,000 - a provision that will increase costs by as much as 22.9 percent. This is only the beginning; this cap is scheduled to increase to $1.25 million in 2011, $2 million in 2012 and an unlimited amount in 2014, setting premiums on a course to skyrocket faster than the national debt.

With an already fragile economy, employers will be unable to absorb these massive increases to health care costs, forcing them to pass on the additional costs directly to their employees, reduce the amount and quality of care they are able to offer, or lay off portions of their work force to cover the difference. This isn’t corporate greed, it’s the reality of running a business and providing jobs.

Even worse, the rapidly increasing cost of health care coverage will have a disproportionately devastating impact on America’s 35 million uninsured - a significant portion of whom don’t want coverage despite being able to afford it. This is slated to change in 2014, when Mr. Obama’s nanny-statist and possibly unconstitutional individual mandate takes away their personal choice and forces them to buy into the system.

This is a disastrous law to begin with, but even so, the provisions that took effect last week couldn’t come at a worse time. With many states facing record unemployment, most businesses scrambling to stay above water and families all across the country struggling to make ends meet, the resulting runaway increases to premiums will only dig our economy into a deeper hole.

This November, voters are poised to send President Obama a clear message: Stop practicing bad medicine on our economy.

Erik Telford is director of membership for Americans for Prosperity.