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Your health care: Obama's $18,000 broken promise

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FILE - Dec. 4, 2013: President Obama speaks about the economy and growing economic inequality, at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus in Washington. The president said the income gap between America's rich and poor is a "defining challenge of our time." (AP)

How would you feel if someone promised to give you a car, and then reneged on that pledge?  That’s how all Americans should feel when it comes to ObamaCare -- because Barack Obama’s failed and discredited campaign promise to lower health insurance premiums has cost the average American family an amount equal to the price of many new cars.

During his 2008 campaign, one of then-Senator Obama’s most audacious promises was that his health plan would reduce premiums by $2,500 for the average family.  His repeatedly made his pledge on videotape; you can view those promises here.  But health insurance premiums have continued to rise -- not just despite ObamaCare, but in many cases because of the law’s new regulations and mandates.

As with any balky automobile, it’s time for the American people to trade in this ObamaCare lemon, and replace it with something that works. 

A new analysis by the think-tank America Next, where I serve as honorary chairman, quantifies the massive scope of the broken promise.  Compared to 2008 -- the year President Obama was elected -- Americans have faced a cumulative $6,388 per individual, and $18,610 per family, in higher costs because President Obama’s health plan has failed to achieve its promised premium reductions.  Overall, that amounts to $1.2 trillion in higher premium costs due to ObamaCare’s failure to deliver.

The administration has put forth all sorts of excuses about why its law hasn’t met the expectations the president himself set. One of them is that the law’s major provisions only took effect in January, so ObamaCare needs more time to achieve savings.  

But, in July 2008, Jason Furman—then the Obama campaign’s economic policy director, and now the Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors—told the New York Times that “we think we could get to $2,500 in savings by the end of the first term, or be very close to it.”  

The fact that Democrats delayed full ObamaCare implementation until 2014 to hide the legislation’s true cost shouldn’t absolve President Obama for failing to deliver on his promise one whit.

The administration also now claims that ObamaCare is working, because premiums are “only” rising by 6 or 8 percent per year.  But that’s not what then-candidate Obama himself promised in 2008; he spoke frequently of “cutting,” “reducing,” and “lowering” premium costs.  Whether premiums go up by 1 percent or 101 percent, any increase represents a promise broken.

In August 2012, Politifact nicely summed up ObamaCare’s discredited premium pledge: “An author of the $2,500 figure has disavowed its use as it relates to premiums alone.  An independent health care analyst projects that premiums will go up for the typical family.  The federal agency implementing [ObamaCare] did not provide evidence that premiums will go down for the typical family.  We rate this a Promise Broken.”

Even as ObamaCare has failed to deliver, there is a better way.  The America Next health plan can provide the relief from rising costs that Americans need and deserve.  Rather than focusing on a massive expansion and restructuring of the health care system, the America Next plan focuses like a laser beam on reducing health costs. The plan creates incentives for states to reform their insurance markets, thereby reducing plan premiums. It also includes other reforms with a proven track record of lowering costs, including tax equity between employer-based and individually-purchased insurance plans, lawsuit reforms, and new incentives for Health Savings Accounts. 

Analysis by independent, non-partisan experts confirm the plan’s effectiveness.  When considering proposals similar to those in the America Next plan, the Congressional Budget Office concluded in 2009 that they would lower small business health insurance premiums by 7 to 10 percent, and reduce individual health insurance premiums by 5 to 8 percent.  Compared to the premium increases projected under ObamaCare, the reforms in the America Next plan could provide thousands of dollars in real relief for families struggling from high insurance premiums.

The America Next report confirms that the average American family has paid a price equal to the sum of many new cars because ObamaCare has failed to meet the president's commitments. And, as with any balky automobile, it’s time for the American people to trade in this ObamaCare lemon, and replace it with something that works. Coupled with ObamaCare’s full repeal, the America Next health plan can provide what the American people need—real relief from skyrocketing health costs.

Republican Bobby Jindal is Governor of Louisiana and Honorary Chairman of America Next, a conservative policy group that focuses on winning the war of ideas.

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