Employer-based health insurance premiums climbed 4.2% this year for family plans, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation report. That’s up from 3% the year before.
Since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865.
The White House cheered the news, saying it was a sign of continued slow growth in premium costs.
That much is true. Since 2006, the average annual increase for family plans at work has been 4.9%, down from around 10% a year from 1999-2005.
Slightly less higher premiums aren’t what President Obama promised Americans when he ran for office touting his medical overhaul. He specifically said his plan would cut premiums.
“We will start,” Obama said back in 2008, “by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”
That $2,500 figure was Obama’s mantra on health care. You can watch the video if you don’t believe it.
And Obama wasn’t talking about government subsidized insurance or expanding Medicaid or anything like that. He specifically focused on employer provided health care.
For “people who already have insurance, and the employers who are providing it,” he said at one campaign event, “we will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family.”
So was he talking about lowering the rate of increase? It sure didn’t seem that way. On CNN he said, “We’re going to reduce costs an average of $2,500.”
Every time the subject came up, he promised to cut premiums, not slow the rate of increase.
If what he meant was “we’re going to keep the rate of increase in premiums about where it’s been for several years now,” he was being purposefully misleading.
Of course, even if he did mean what he didn’t say, Obama can’t claim credit for the slowdown.
The truth is that the current trend started in 2006, long before Obama took office, and longer still before ObamaCare took effect.
And the continued trend of modest premium increases has been due largely to the shift in the employer market toward health savings account-type plans, which just happened to hit the market in 2005.
But that’s a topic for another day.