President Barack Obama flaunts the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, as one of the chief accomplishments of his tenure. Republican nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, promises to repeal the law, calling it "a disaster." The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Premiums for mid-level health plans under Obamacare will increase by an average of 25 percent next year, according to a report from the New York Times Tuesday. The ACA has allowed millions of Americans to buy health insurance who did not have it before and that number might increase when open enrollment begins on healthcare.gov on Nov. 1, but some statistics about its performance might give some potential enrollees pause.
The average increase in benchmark premiums on the federal exchange will be 25 percent, compares with a two percent increase in 2015 and a seven percent increase in 2016. Many major insurers, including AETNA and United Health have pulled out of the public marketplace created by the ACA in many states as a result of multimillion-dollar losses. The surge in premiums, approved by state officials, is the result of those pull-outs. Insurers claim they are losing money in the ACA marketplace because of more payouts to sick customers than expected in government estimates.
Trump was quick to pile on criticism of the law on the campaign trail Tuesday.
"I can say all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare. You folks, this is another group. Is that a correct statement?" he said. "You look at what they're going through with their health care is horrible because of Obamacare. So we'll repeal it and replace it."
Premiums are not the only problem facing Obamacare. The insurer pull outs mean at least 1.4 million people from 32 states could lose their health insurance next year as their plans are set to disappear from the program.
The law has also shown a susceptibility to fraud. Government investigators recently applied for and received Obamacare health insurance using names of people who do not exist, CNBC reported in September. And a report from the Government Accountability Office found the Obama administration is illegally routing payments to health insurers and not the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Still, President Obama defends the major tenets of the law, including the ability for families to keep children on their plans until 26 and regulations preventing insurers from denying customers based on preexisting conditions. More than 11.3 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, drastically reducing the uninsured rate.