Surprise! Obamacare is in much better shape than the headlines suggest!


To hear some people tell it, the problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act portend the ultimate failure of the program itself and probably the Obama presidency as a whole.

Well, piffle. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Obamacare’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The crepe-hanging is wishful thinking on the part of political partisans who have been pathologically opposed to health-care reform from the get-go.

Consider THIS ARGUMENT advanced by Jonathan Chait:

The most common fallacy of journalism, and one of the most common fallacies of the human brain in general, is the assumption that whatever is happening at the moment will continue to happen forever. That has been the implicit assumption of the hyperventilating coverage of the miserable Obamacare rollout. That fallacy is the explicit premise of one such story today, which asserts, “The lesson of the last six weeks is that when it comes to the Obamacare rollout, if it can go wrong, it probably will.” Fittingly, that piece appears in Politico, a publication for whom the overmagnification of recent trends is its essential credo.

It is always possible that the most recent Obamacare trend line will continue ad infinitum. More likely, things will round back into normalcy. A few points to keep in mind:Obamacare has existed for more than six weeks. This fact may shock those of you who are either fruit flies or dedicated Politico junkies, but it is true. The law does many things, and some of them occurred prior to October 1.

One of the most important changes in the law is a huge collection of bureaucratic nudges designed to incentivize the health-care system toward delivering higher value rather than churning out higher cost. That experiment, while still extremely early, is going far better at this stage than even the most optimistic advocates hoped. A wave of innovation is in full bloom, manifesting itself in such things as lower rehospitalization rates, rapid growth of accountable care organizations and retail health providers, and employers shopping around for less expensive plans rather than endlessly footing higher bills.

And while the consumer rollout of the health exchanges has been an unmitigated disaster, the insurance response went much better than expected. The hated Obamacare central-planning bureaucrats tried to predict the cost of insurance plans under the new exchanges, and they turned out to have erred on the side of pessimism. The product on offer turns out to be significantly cheaper than initially expected — which is to say, the private sector has bet on the exchanges working.

Even the lessons of the last six weeks are more ambiguous than you might think. Medicaid is signing up customers rapidly — some of whom were eligible even before Obamacare and didn’t realize it, but enrolled owing to publicity from the new law.

What’s more, as Jonathan Cohn carefully shows, the victims of Obamacare — people in the individual market forced to buy more expensive plans — are almost certainly far fewer than widely believed. There are several reasons for this, as he explains: Individual plan holders tend to cycle in and out of the market quickly, they don’t always know the fine-print limitations of their plans, and they don’t yet know what alternative they can get in the new exchanges. But it’s likely most people who have insurance in the individual market will be better off (not to mention, the uninsured will be, too).

Democrats remain unified behind Obamacare. The feeding-frenzy atmosphere has reached a point where the National Journal will publish a story by conservative writer Josh Kraushaar arguing that Democrats in Congress are fleeing the law, and edging toward support for repeal. In fact, the opposite is occurring. Thirty-nine Democrats in the House voted for Fred Upton’s “keep your plan” bill, which truly would undermine the law. But that was a free vote on a bill that’s going nowhere anyway. Why not vote for it and help insulate yourself from the political fallout from plan cancellations?


All sorts of things will happen to Obamacare in the next few months. At least some of those things will be bad, because any large enough enterprise, public or private, has bad things happen. One thing that can be predicted is that more and more people will start signing up for Obamacare between now and the end of March, which means the constituency for the law will steadily grow. There will still be a constituency against the law, and possibly future failures will enlarge it, too.

But at some point, having state exchanges where people buy private insurance, with rules preventing abusive practices, will simply be part of the backdrop of health insurance.

And then there’s the fact that Obamacare’s standing in the polls hasn’t changed much despite all the negative media coverage, as we see HERE:

Despite the bad website roll-out, despite the controversy over the small percentage of the population getting a huge proportion of media attention for losing their current policies, despite the hyperactive media equating all this to Katrina, the American people are not abandoning support for Obamacare in any significant numbers.

Forty-one percent of Americans expressed support for the 2010 law popularly known as Obamacare in a survey conducted from Thursday to Monday. That was down 3 percentage points from a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken from September 27 to October 1.Opposition to the healthcare law stood at 59 percent in the latest poll, versus 56 percent in the earlier survey.

There has been some shift … but the shift has been small,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.

That’s pretty much where numbers have been for years. People have made up their minds about the law and are sticking with their opinions. Reuters/Ipsos didn’t directly ask about repeal, but 65 percent of respondents said they’d support some changes to the law. They also found that some “elements of the law, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, remain popular,” making repeal—still—politically problematic for Republicans.

Another poll released today, from  United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, finds that most Americans do oppose repeal, essentially the same numbers as they polled during the summer.

Thirty-eight percent of those polled said Congress should “repeal the law so it is not implemented at all,” while 35 percent said lawmakers should “wait and see how things go before making any changes.” Another 23 percent said Congress should “provide more money to ensure it is implemented effectively” (the remaining 5 percent had no opinion).

That’s 58 percent of the public wanting Obamacare to have a chance to work. Back in July, the same poll found that 36 percent supported repeal, 30 percent wanted to give it time, and 27 percent said it should have more funding for implementation. That’s where the public is, no matter how much the Republicans and the traditional media want to make them panic.



  1. Unfortunately for the liberals, public opinion has shifted to all time highs against thinking government has a responsibility to insure all Americans.

    In a stunning reversal, a new Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans (56 percent) do not think it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health coverage. The new poll reports that just seven years earlier, the American majority (69 percent) had the opposite view, believing that government was responsible for ensuring all American have health care.


    No matter how people like Chait try to spin it, the job losses, working hour cutbacks, and forced massive drops in insurance plans has so far been a monumental disaster for ObamaCare.

  2. thehereandnow1

    Your numbers are off Pat:


    It seems of late you like to post-and-run, not replying to anyone, but maybe your thoughts on the news that hidden in the law (besides the little bit about how you can’t keep your doctor/plan if you like them) the bit where if the insurance companies don’t make enough money the government (really the taxpayers) will pay them subsidies? So the everyday person won’t get subsidies to help pay for it, but the insurance companies will if they don’t make enough money? Wait, I thought all you libs were against those big, evil insurance companies.

    Real world calling you Pat, this thing is not good, for anyone.

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