- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2011

Obamacare was supposed to make health care affordable for everyone. It failed. We now have proof that President Obama’s signature accomplishment is only making things more expensive. According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, health-insurance premiums for a family surged 9 percent this year - the largest jump since 2005.

That increase is more than double the rate of general inflation (3.8 percent) and quadruple wage growth (1.6 percent). The average American family’s health-insurance tab is $15,000 a year, which is double the amount paid a decade ago. Employers are stuck paying most of this, but employees are finding that the premium hikes cut into their ability to receive raises and cost-of-living adjustments. Employee contributions to health benefits have increased 168 percent since 1999, according to the Kaiser study. That’s quadruple the inflation rate and almost triple earnings growth.

The Kaiser study points the finger at Obamacare for up to 2 percent of this year’s cost increase. Allowing “children” up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ employer-sponsored plans is a massive expense. Obamacare also mandated that some plans provide preventive services, like mammograms, with no patient cost-sharing. The Kaiser study only looked at such direct costs of the experiment in socialized medicine, but this scheme also carries a host of indirect effects. For instance, insurance companies have jumped the gun and implemented rate hikes now out of fear of an uncertain future in which increases will be harder to implement when Obamacare’s controls are fully implemented in 2014.

Spiraling health-insurance expense is also a deterrent to hiring, particularly among small businesses. When the unemployment rate is stuck north of 9 percent, as it has been for most of this year, that matters a lot.

The good news is that three challenges to Obamacare made their way to the Supreme Court in the past week. The most important of these is the 11th Circuit case brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The federal appellate court in Atlanta had mostly upheld a ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional but found it to be severable, meaning it could be cut out and the rest of the law would stand.

The Obama administration on Wednesday formally asked the Supreme Court to review the health care law, which makes it more likely the legal questions could be settled in time for the 2012 elections. The justices will have to address the issue of how far the Commerce Clause can be stretched to expand the federal government’s reach - and whether the government can in fact mandate that Americans must buy a product simply for being alive.

It’s past time to end the uncertainty and overturn this ill-considered legislation. If spiraling health care costs are ever to be wrestled under control, we need to return control to consumers. Nothing else will work. Obamacare needs to go.