This post was written by Connor Balough
While Congress looks to improve the American health care system, it should remember lessons from Obamacare’s failure. For the finances to work, the law depended on many Latinos enrolling in government health care. What the Obama administration didn’t realize, though, was they first had to provide health insurance worth paying for. As a result, millions fewer Latinos have enrolled in Obamacare than originally projected.
Who could blame them? After all, nobody wants to deal with a mountain of new red tape, substantially higher monthly premiums, or new obligations to the IRS. Latinos—like all Americans—know that these are all signs of a bad deal.
Yet the previous administration still fought to get Latinos on board. In Obamacare’s first enrollment period, the government created a Spanish version of HealthCare.Gov and spent nearly $700 million on advertising—much of it marketed exclusively to Latinos.
Despite this massive marketing push, Latinos had no good reason to visit that website.
Just consider the case of my son, also named Daniel. He is now in his early 20’s, and his ambition is to be an entrepreneur. This is not unusual—as of 2015, Latinos were twice as likely as their Caucasian peers to start their own business.
Given Daniel’s age, good health, and entrepreneurial ambitions, what he needs from health insurance is a no-frills, affordable policy that protects him in the event of an accident or unexpected illness. But those plans are not allowed on the Obamacare exchanges.
Instead, the only plans available to someone like Daniel are required to provide more coverage than he’ll likely need, hiking the price in the process. And given that he is young and in good health, his higher premiums help subsidize older generations such as mine. Obamacare’s planners were counting on this, which is why they tried so hard to get young Latinos enrolled.
And the premiums are just the start of it. Average exchange policies come with enormous deductibles, requiring enrollees to pay an average of $6,000 before insurance even kicks in.
No wonder so many Latinos have avoided Obamacare. Last year, less than one million reported enrolling in the federal insurance exchange. Even government subsidies aren’t enough to make purchasing these health insurance plans worthwhile. For many Latinos, our only option is to enroll in a Medicaid system that is overburdened, poorly run, and delivers substandard care.
If lawmakers want to help Latinos get access to the best possible health care, they need to step away from the Obamacare model, its mandates, and the thousands of regulations that come with it. Instead, they need to harness the power of markets—the only way to get all of us a good deal.