The rumors of Obamacare's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Every month the news gets better. And we've just started the 2014 open enrollment period, which runs until March 31.
Ezra Klein has a good factual overview of what is going on with the Affordable Care Act in "The death of Obamacare's death spiral."
Obamacare haters have been fantasizing about the prospect of few young people signing up for coverage. Which explains why they've been running deceptive ads aimed at discouraging younger folk from getting health insurance, an act that borders on malevolence.
What kind of morally deficient person believes it is good for people to lack health insurance, leaving them at high risk of either going bankrupt if they have a serious illness, or being forced to forego necessary health care?
Fortunately, Klein points out that early enrollment in Obamacare, though tilted somewhat toward older people, is well in line with both the Massachusetts experience and actuarial feasibility.
No one anywhere expected that the risk pool would be balanced by Jan. 1. Major health laws always follow the same pattern: The people who badly need insurance sign up first, and they tend to be older and sicker. Younger people sign up later -- typically right before the penalty hits. So far, the age pattern in Obamacare enrollment is tracking the age pattern in enrollment for the Massachusetts reforms quite closely.
...The risk of a "death spiral" is over. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that if the market's age distribution freezes at its current level -- an extremely unlikely scenario -- "overall costs in individual market plans would be about 2.4% higher than premium revenues." So, in theory, premiums costs might rise by a few percentage points. That's a problem, but it's nothing even in the neighborhood of a death spiral.
So Republicans need to start finding some other issue to hang their 2014 election hopes on. Hmmmm...
Benghazi? No, investigation after investigation has found very little to criticize the Administration on here.
IRS scandal? No, the FBI has determined that no laws were broken.
Economy? No, even with the GOP government shutdown and other shenanigans, jobs are steadily being created and the stock market is flirting with new highs.
Deficits? No, the federal budget deficit is dropping fast.
Back to Obamacare, I guess. Unfortunately for the GOP, the Affordable Care Act is going to become increasingly popular with Americans, just as Social Security and Medicare did after shaky starts.
My wife was able to get a much better replacement policy through Cover Oregon than her over-priced and under-benefitted Regence Blue Cross policy that was cancelled. Less expensive. Lower deductible. Even without a subsidy.
Republicans who want to do away with Obamacare will have to try to pry her policy out of her Affordable Care Act-loving hands.
Which will be joined by many millions of other hands belonging to people who finally have decent health insurance thanks to Obamacare.
"What kind of morally deficient person believes it is good for people to lack health insurance,...". People with "I've got mine, not worried about yours, just help me defeat the system that I oppose" attitude.
In the end, as you indicate, Obamacare will work and help to better health insurance in this country. Unfortunately, the real answer, single-payer, will not be implemented in my lifetime because of the ill-will produced by the Obamacare implementation fiasco. No politician will want to touch healthcare for the next 20-30 years.
Posted by: Lew Hundley | January 15, 2014 at 10:22 AM