So much for Obamacare reigning in health insurance costs

Debra Saunders has this useful summary:

Ryan cited the unintended consequences that employer-paid health care plans have delivered: "The system that shields us from the cost of services has actually left us paying much, much more."

On the same day, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report that bolstered Ryan's argument. Over the past year, average annual cost for employer-sponsored health care plans rose 9 percent. Premiums have more than doubled since 2001. The average annual premium is now $15,073 per family -- and that doesn't include out-of-pocket payments.

With premiums rising higher than inflation, those numbers are biting into workers' paychecks. And there's little employers can do other than raise employee contributions from an average of $1,787 per family 10 years ago to $4,129 today.

The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama, was supposed to rein in runaway health care costs. How's that going? Not as advertised. Even before the ACA takes full effect in 2014, today's mandates -- such as a requirement that employers offer coverage for adult children up to the age of 26 and that some plans provide free preventive care -- must be a factor in the cost spurt. The Kaiser report estimates that 2.3 million adult children were added to their parents' employer-sponsored plans because of the law.

Democrats complain about employers choosing to sit on their money and not hire. But their health care mandates serve as a tax on hiring workers.

It can only get worse. As providers consolidate, consumers' options decrease. Ryan told reporters after his talk that he sees a future in which, as with utilities, there are a mere "handful" of providers. That can't be good for consumers. . . .

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