Defining Obamacare ‘success’ down, one more time

Barack Obama, Joe Biden

The latest trumpeting of Obamacare’s “success,” based on a new budgetary report, is an example of the low expectations we have come to have for government programs.

Over the next decade, according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will add $1.2 trillion to federal deficits. It will do this even though it raises taxes by more than $500 billion over that time — that $1.2 trillion figure is a net cost.

And this is now being heralded as a success … why? Because Obamacare was supposed to be even more of a fiscal drag.

The latest estimate shows the net effect on deficits will be $142 billion less than what the number-crunchers said in their previous forecast. Woo-hoo, right? Not really. This figure does not mean the law is saving us money; it means we are set to borrow only about 90 percent as much as we expected to borrow. We would still borrow more than $1.2 trillion to pay for 10 years of Obamacare.

And more than two-thirds of the “savings” — a.k.a. the reduction of Obamacare borrowing from huge to not-quite-as-huge — can be attributed to the fact the latest estimate shows the law will cover 2 million fewer people than previously thought.

And by “previously thought,” I mean all the way back in … January. If we compare the numbers in this estimate to the ones in CBO’s estimate after Obamacare became law in March 2010, the discrepancy is even larger.

Back in March 2010, CBO estimated the effects on the uninsured population through 2019. Back then, CBO estimated there would 32 million more people with health insurance in 2019 than if Obamacare had not become law.

In the new report, CBO says in 2019 that figure will be 24 million — a full one-quarter lower than the estimate five years ago.

Now, to those 24 million people, this is no small feat. But in the big picture, when we compare Obamacare’s results to the way it was sold five years ago (remember when it was going to reduce deficits? good times, good times) the biggest change appears to be in the way its backers define “success.”

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40 comments
ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

Hello, Mr. Wingfield,

Two entrepreneurs who jumped ship from their company sponsored health care plans would like to take issue with your analysis. 

We don't receive any subsidies, as we make far too much money,  but the ACA enabled us to finally purchase a decent individual family plan without the blood samples, inevitable exclusion of one or more of our perfectly healthy family members based on medical records the insurance companies apparently found problematic, that accepted our current doctors, etc.

Navigating the private family market prior to ACA was a hugely expensive nightmare, and a major disincentive to anyone thinking of starting a business, particularly if you have kids.

Don't we want Americans to start businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, and grow our economy? If so, make it easier for them to take that jump. We might not have done it if not for the security of knowing there was financial support from family had we gotten into a bind.

If people were not so tethered to their employers for health insurance, what economic rain could we unleash?

Starik
Starik

Obamacare is indeed an unsatisfactory solution to the problem of the uninsured, but remember it barely passed.  Given the lobbies of insurance companies, health care workers, drug manufacturers and all the rest passage was Obama's greatest triumph. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Most of those on Obozocare don't have health insurance, they have a handout by another name.

The folks who did the paying under the old system are still doing the paying.  Those who were on the dole under the old system are still on the dole.

Obozocare didn't reduce the cost of anything.  Millions lost the plans they had because Obozocare's mandates and one-size-fits-all big government approach drove costs up.

The best the left can do is "OBOZOCARE ISN'T AS BIG A DISASTER AS SOME THOUGHT!!!"  And even that faint praise is arguable.

WilJohnson
WilJohnson

Obamacare is slowly and steadily erasing the stain of America being one of the few developed countries on the planet which does not insist that every one of our poor children and all of our elderly and disabled citizens has access to the most basic healthcare.


As a conservative, I think this slow march to a more exceptional America is a good thing.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

The other point to remember here


It wouldnt matter if Obamacare paid off the National Debt. Republicans still wouldn't like it


Obamacare = Bad


They don't get much past that. Kyle tries and being honest he begrudgingly admits 25 million is a pretty big number. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar To those 25 million people, yes -- if we get there (we aren't nearly there yet). In the context of how the law was sold, it's a little different.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

One of the best uses of tax money.  Well spent and helps millions.  Even helps those too mad to be thankful.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Why does the GOP learners so dislike their fellow man so much?


Why are the proggies always so willing to accept failed, inefficient, poorly run, costly Gov programs, that fail to meet their stated objectives, just because some small minority benefits from them.  


Just like with the failing schools, rather than reform them,  they pander for the status quo, with just a little mo money.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister  just because some small minority benefits from them.


Tell 25 million people they are a "small minority" and that Obamacare isn't helping them.


I dare ya. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

This is just another pathetic example of the efforts to downplay any good news about Obamacare.Apparently, there are some people who would want us to believe that a healthcare system, which helps millions of people to obtain health insurance at affordable cost, could be instituted at no cost at all. Never mind that before Obamacare the premiums were increasing at an alarming rate, many millions were without insurance because they could not afford it, people were denied insurance because of preexisting conditions or dropped when they got sick. Now some people are downplaying or even mocking any good news as if five years ago anybody could accurately predict how a complex new healthcare law would work. They should look at how their side predicted the cost of the Iraq war; they should look at the cost overruns of just about everything from military equipment to new Falcon stadium; compared with those the news about the cost of Obamacare are indeed good news.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV as if five years ago anybody could accurately predict how a complex new healthcare law would work.


I think many of us predicted it, just as it turned out; overly complex, extremely expensive, inefficient, over reaching, big government enabling, individual responsibility inhibiting, rube goldberg like failure. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Bush set up the Medicaire Part D program with a straightforward honest proposal and law. The Democrats, controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress had to overreach, obfuscate, bribe, and lie to provide health insurance coverage for poor people, if you even stop at accepting that as their primary objective (which I do not). 


It is now important to distinguish not just the total number of people with coverage but also track the total number of people paying for or earning (working for) their coverage. Very few of the newly covered are paying for their coverage in full, according to the published numbers, nowhere near the way the program was sold from Obama on down the ranks of Democrats. 


The program is driving prices through the roof for the rest of us, and the pool of payers is designed to shrink over time, further fueling the inevitable Democrat push for single payer and significantly higher taxation or debt.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@DawgDadII The Democrats, controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress had to overreach, obfuscate, bribe, and lie to provide health insurance coverage for poor people, if you even stop at accepting that as their primary objective (which I do not). 


No they didn't


They passed a bill and the President signed it


We have been doing that for years.


The program is driving prices through the roof for the rest of us,


No its not

Juanx
Juanx

I don't get it. Why does the GOP leaners so dislike their fellow man so much? The majority of Americans are very generous toward those in need. The ACA is also benefitting those who are free lance workers, consultants, independent contractors, etc. Surely these groups are not free loaders. If the ACA needs amendments let's give our elected officials a call and get it fixed, not repealed. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Juanx I don't get it. Why does the GOP learners so dislike their fellow man so much?


This is the same crowd that will poke out their chests and proudly tell you how Christian they are. 

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

And none of this accounts for everyone's increased premium costs and outrageous deductibles and copays.


Total unmitigated failure.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@IReportYouWhine#1 And none of this accounts for everyone's increased premium costs and outrageous deductibles and copays.


My premiums copay and deductibles stayed pretty flat


Remember when they were lying about Death Panels ?



RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Obamacare was sold by deception and half truths and we continue to have those revealed to us almost daily.  One of the biggest fibs was that it was going to bend the cost curve in healthcare inflation.  But, in fact, it just piggybacked on a downward trend that was already in place.   For those getting help with paying their premiums, it seems to be beneficial, many others who do not qualify for a subsidy, have trouble paying the premiums, deductibles, and copays and are not that pleased.  For the rest of us, about 85% of the population with employer based healthcare, it was a lose/lose event.  If the American people had been able to separate the fibs from the facts, it would have never passed, but Obama described a pretty utopian fantasy.


From Forbes  http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/03/09/has-obamacare-fixed-u-s-healthcare-inflation/


But as we’ll also see, giving Obamacare credit for the recent slowdown in health prices is quite a stretch for two reasons: first, it fails to account for the fact that this downward trend was clearly visible years before President Obama was even elected president; and second, it fails to account for what was happening to the general economy and general inflation during the same time period.



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister it fails to account for what was happening to the general economy and general inflation during the same time period.


The Bush recession has been over for some time now


Costs increases are still slowing. Try again.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister  For the rest of us, about 85% of the population with employer based healthcare, it was a lose/lose event.


It wasn't for me and everyone I work with


What planet do you live on ?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

But the data should be compared not merely to previous CBO projections, but also to the repeated, constant, highly operatic predictions by Republican politicians that ObamaCare would lead to the collapse of the American economy, the destruction of the health-care system, the dreaded “death spiral” that would leave the insurance industry a smoking ruin and pretty much the end of western civilization as we know it.


None of those predictions has come true, or even remotely true.


Jay nails it here.


You could say Kyle is defining Obamacare's failures down ( lower costs )....One more time.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Providing healthcare to those 25 million is well worth it. Everybody wins when we are a healthier more productive society


No which should be a priority 


Ware with Iran costing trillions more ? Or providing healthcare for millions of Americans.



AvailableName
AvailableName

Yeah "blank" those 24 million people and the millions who are and will be uninsured because of refusals to expand Medicaid.  But don't worry, Tom Price has a plan to make it all better - the "Medical Freedom Act."


"Should the Court rule in favor of a fair and honest interpretation of the exchange subsidies under Obamacare, it is important that there be positive solutions ready to go in response. States ought to be equipped with the freedom and flexibility to ensure their citizens have access to affordable, quality health care choices. That is why I have introduced the Medical Freedom Act – legislation to allow states the freedom to offer within their jurisdiction health plans, health savings accounts, and other arrangements that are currently restricted under Obamacare. This type of  flexibility within the states to regulate their markets would be a strong first step toward mitigating the fallout from this disastrous law. When coupled with other patient-centered reforms like individual member associations, medical liability reform, and tax credits for the purchase of health coverage, we can do more than just respond to this court ruling; we can put in place health care reforms that will put patients, families and doctors in charge of medical decisions, not Washington."


Now there's some specificity!  And of course, he'll do that without an extra red cent in taxes, because he's a Republican and can perform MAGIC!

MrSnarky
MrSnarky

1.2 trillion over the next decade...that's a big number!  So 12 trillion over the next 100 years then right?  If you project things out far enough, the numbers sound big!  Awesome insight!

It's still cheaper than w's wars and actually helps people...and guess what?  Subsidizing health insurance costs money.  Shocker I know!

Thanks for the newsflash.  Back to the salt mines now.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

So, what is the Republican plan for covering that 24 million?  Or 32 million?  


Or anyone? 

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

I wish there was a survey for self-employed folks that have to purchase their own plans with high deductibles and high premiums  and ask them if it's a success.

MANGLER
MANGLER

@Jimmyliscious Because they've never been forced to do that under traditional insurance plans?

How about we include self employed that have some sort of preexisting condition in that survey.

AvailableName
AvailableName

@Jimmyliscious I've got my hand up, me, me  You see I wasn't insurable before, I could pay but no one would take my money.  So Jimmy, I should be kicked to the gutter?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Obozocare is also labeled a "success" that is "working" because it turns out that people will sign up by the millions for free stuff.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LilBarryBailout We know they will line up at ER's across the country because it is free


You can thank Ronald reagan for that.


Obamacare isn't free.

GMFA
GMFA

@LilBarryBailout And your and Kyle's plan is what? Oh, just to complain. The Republicans look like fools every time they say they have a plan. Shoot, they can't even get along with each other in their little dysfunctional world.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@HeadleyLamar @LilBarryBailout

Obozocare isn't free?  Thanks for the newsflash.

Taxpayers are being bilked out of a couple hundred billion a year for it, so it's juuuuuuust a bit obvious that it isn't free.