In a White House news conference Thursday, President Barack Obama also announced that 35 percent of people who enrolled on the federally run healthcare.gov marketplace are under age 35.
A transcript follows.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Before I take questions, I’d also like to say a few words about how the Affordable Care Act is now covering more people at less cost than most would have predicted just a few months ago. The first open enrollment period under this law ended a little over two weeks ago. And as more data comes in, we now know that the number of Americans who’ve signed up for private insurance in the marketplaces has grown to 8 million people. Eight million people. Thirty-five percent of people who enrolled through the federal marketplace are under the age of 35.
All told, independent experts now estimate that millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage this year, with millions more to come next year and the year after.
We’ve also seen signs that the Affordable Care Act is bringing economic security to more Americans. Before this law added new transparency and competition to the individual market, folks who’ve bought insurance on their own regularly saw double-digit increases in their premiums. That was the norm.
And while we suspect that premiums will keep rising, as they have for decades, we also know that, since the law took effect, health care spending has risen more slowly than at any time in the past 50 years. In the decade before the Affordable Care Act, employer-based insurance rose almost 8 percent a year. Last year, it grew at half that rate.
Under this law, real Medicare costs per person have nearly stopped growing. The life of the Medicare trust fund has been extended by 10 years. And the independent Congressional Budget Office now expects premiums for plans on the marketplace to be 15 percent lower than originally predicted.
So those savings add up to more money that families can spend at businesses, more money that businesses can spend hiring new workers, and the CBO now says that the Affordable Care Act will be cheaper than recently projected. Lower costs from coverage provisions will shrink our deficits by an extra $100 billion.
So the bottom line is, under the Affordable Care Act, the share of Americans with insurance is up, the growth of health care costs is down, hundreds of millions of Americans who already have insurance now have new benefits and protections, from free preventive care to freedom from lifetime caps on your care. No American with a pre-existing condition like asthma or cancer can be denied coverage. No woman can be charged more just for being a woman. Those days are over.
And this thing is working. I’ve said before: This law won’t solve all the problems in our health care system. We know we’ve got more work to do. But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans, and take insurance away from millions more, which is why, as I’ve said before, I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been.
They still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working. They said nobody would sign up. They were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country. They were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who’d be denied coverage again or every woman who’d be charged more for just being a woman again.
I know every American isn’t going to agree with this law, but I think we can agree that it’s well past time to move on as a country and refocus our energy on the issues that the American people are most concerned about, and that continues to be the economy, because these endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost.
The 50 or so votes Republicans have taken to repeal this law could have been 50 votes to create jobs by investing in things like infrastructure or innovation, or 50 votes to make it easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college, or 50 votes to raise the minimum wage or restore unemployment insurance that they let expire for folks working hard to find a new job.
The point is, the repeal debate is and should be over. The Affordable Care Act is working. And I know the American people don’t want us spending the next two-and-a-half years re-fighting the settled political battles of the last five years. They sent us here to repair our economy, to rebuild our middle class, and to restore our founding promise of opportunity, not just for a few, but for all. And as president, that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing as long as I’m in this office.