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When the President signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law nearly three years ago, it came with the promise of more health care for more people for less money.

(And while those of us in the business knew better at the time, everyone else seemed to buy this late night infomercial pitch, where something that sounded so good couldn’t possibly be true.)

Simple economics revealed pretty early on that the “affordable” part of PPACA wasn’t based anywhere in reality. So much for truth in advertising.

Now we have this from the latest Congressional Budget Office breakdown, as reported by the Associated Press.

“The report says that health spending will continue to grow as Obama’s health care law takes full effect. CBO said spending on major health care programs will surpass Social Security in 2014, as Obama’s push to cover the uninsured goes into high gear. Major health care programs include Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance and the new subsidies to help uninsured Americans get coverage.

“Although health care costs remain a major problem for the budget, a slowdown in the growth of medical spending is helping take away some of the immediate pressure. In 2012, federal spending for Medicare and Medicaid was about 5 percent below what CBO had projected only two years earlier. As a result, the agency has trimmed its long-range cost projections.”

While this isn’t exactly unexpected, it’s startling to see a line-item behemoth such as Social Security dwarfed by health care as soon as next year.

And since we’re throwing around clichés, you get what you pay for, right? Everybody will be covered, so mission accomplished, right?

Well, that’s the kicker. Now it looks like we don’t get that. Again, from AP:

“CBO also estimates that fewer uninsured people will get coverage under the health care overhaul—about 4 million fewer Americans. And about 7 million fewer will be covered by job-based health plans.”

Oh, and it gets better.

“CBO also said it expects more employers to get out of the business of providing health insurance, particularly for low-wage workers, and instead pay fines to the government. Although employer-provided coverage will remain the mainstay for most employees, in 2022 there will be 7 million fewer covered by job based plans, the agency said,” the AP story concluded.

See, you don’t even need me this week. Unless it’s to point out the obvious: So, we’ve spent the last three years passing, then arguing over, a law that’s already driven up costs, will cover fewer people than we thought (for more money), while driving some of the people who already provided health insurance out of the game altogether? So what was the point again?

And the worst part about all this is how little coverage this has received. The media’s only takeaway from this bleak forecast is that the deficit is expected to dip for a couple of years.

Before jumping back up higher than before. But, then again, nobody’s reporting that part either.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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