The rip-roaring, super-duper success that is Obamacare

Obamacare: Only the bestest for America.

Obamacare: Only the bestest for America!

The debate is over. The social science is settled. Obamacare has not only won at the Supreme Court, but it has won over the hearts and minds of compassionate, thinking Americans everywhere. Resistance is futile.

Psst. What about those premium increases of 25 percent, 31 percent, even 54 percent that some of the biggest insurers have requested for 2016?

Well, President Obama himself has reassured us that if you like your health insurance premium, you can keep your health insurance premium: “my expectation,” he said, “is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.”

Psst. In Oregon, where the regulator has already approved rates for 2016, the regulator actually insisted that some insurers “raise rates in 2016 even more than they had proposed” — by 35 percent instead of 9 percent in one case, by 20 percent instead of 5 percent in another.

Well, this is surely a temporary hitch in our collective step toward greater coverage for all. As more Americans sign up, we will most assuredly bend the cost curve down.

Psst. The rationale insurers are citing for the premium increases is that the people signing up are older and sicker than expected. The young and healthy are staying away in greater numbers than projected. If the higher premiums keep the young and healthy away, premiums will go up more, the enrolled population will be even more skewed toward older and sicker folks, premiums will go up more and … well, ever heard of the death spiral?

Death panels! Are you regurgitating that Sarah Palin nonsense?

I said death spiral, not death panels. No one’s getting killed, except the attractiveness of Obamacare plans to the people who need to buy them if the plans are to remain viable.

Well, it goes without saying there will be a cost involved if we’re going to expand quality health care to more Americans.

Psst. We’re not doing that. The physician networks on Obamacare plans are much more limited than what people in employer-sponsored insurance have access to: On average, their networks have 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists, 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers, and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Their choices are much more limited than what most people want. And while some plans allow out-of-network visits, others are even cutting out that option. Instead of giving them something like the employer-sponsored health insurance that most people like, we’ve given them a glorified version of Medicaid.

Yes, well, we have to make some trade-offs if we are going to run a fiscally responsible program.

Psst. You mean the kind of fiscally sound program that “does not appear to be set up detect fraud,” as government investigators found? Those investigators were able to get, and keep, insurance for all 11 fake people they tried to enroll. And when six of them eventually lost their coverage, the investigators were able to talk their way into getting five of them back onto the rolls — with even larger subsidies than they were getting before, to boot.

Well, at least people are getting help with buying their health insurance. It gives them more financial security.

Psst. The kind of financial security that leaves them with a shock at tax time? H&R Block reports two-thirds of its customers who bought insurance on an Obamacare exchange and received subsidies in 2014 had to pay back at least part of those subsidies when they filed their taxes this year — a $729 hit on average.

Well, apart from the rising premiums, worrisome enrollment population mix, shrinking provider networks, vulnerability to fraud, and unexpected tax penalties, what could possibly be wrong with Obamacare?

OK, OK. You got me there.

Reader Comments 0

198 comments
dreema
dreema

OK, let's see the Republican plan that doesn't decrease the rates of insured. When there is an alternate plan on the table, reasonable people can discuss options. Until then it's just griping and potshots, like this column.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

As an insurance agent I could have told you all about these problems. long ago. I've turned down business from people that I felt were blatantly lying about their income in order to reap as much of a subsidy as possible. That there would be widespread fraud should surprise no one.

Also, the hmo plans do tend to be extremely skinny in their networks. I had one women in a populous Gwinnet suburb who complained that the primary care doc she was assigned to was an hours drive away.

The whole thing was poorly conceived and executed.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Kyle: " The GOP in its wisdom nominated the one candidate who couldn't credibly offer an alternative to Obamacare, because he had implemented it as governor of Massachusetts"


Republicans in power keep missing the point.  The people voted for Romney in the primaries because (among other things) he had a healthcare solution.  Plus, he stacked up best against Obama.  Romney came the closest anyone could come to Obama. Any other contenders would not have gotten the same amount of electoral votes as Romney did. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude "The people voted for Romney in the primaries because (among other things) he had a healthcare solution."

I don't think that's at all correct. Romney won because he was next in line, better funded and running against a relatively weak field. Yes, he was deemed "electable" by a lot of folks, but that quality was always fatally flawed, IMO, by his inability to campaign credibly against Obama's No. 1 weakness, Obamacare.

straker
straker

Rafe - "takes 60 votes to get a begin debate in the Senate"


Link please.

MHSmith
MHSmith

This is another non-productive blog. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

When you start from the position, as most leftists do, that there is an unlimited supply of money for the government to spend, and that benefits don't have to be weighed against costs, then it's pretty difficult for any program to fail.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@LilBarryBailout Well, when you come from the position, as most conservatives do, that there is an unlimited supply of money for the government to spend on defense, and that benefits don't have to be weighed against costs,then it's pretty difficult for any defense program to fail.  

Even for those projects the Pentagon says they don't need, but congressmen have constituents that have those defense jobs and it might look bad for the politician if he cut the useless program.  So, we over-spend on defense. 


If we took a few of those useless defense projects off the table, and funded healthcare, then our country would be flush with modern equipment, have the best doctors for EVERYONE, and be able to have cradle to grave healthcare solutions. 


But nope. We'd rather have those weapons that kill a bunch of "those people" instead of taking care of the people in our country. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@LogicalDude @LilBarryBailout

1)  Defense is an actual responsibility of the federal government.  Paying for your everyday expenses such as health care is not.

2)  Are you unfamiliar with the cuts in the defense budget of recent years?

3)  Who are "those people"?  The ones beheading Christians and sworn to wipe Israel off the map, despite our old self-congratulatory exclamations of "never again"?  The JV team that Obama can't defeat?  Yeah, I'd rather spend scarce tax payer dollars protecting Americans and Democrats from that than on more handouts for able-bodied but slothful leftists.

straker
straker

Kyle - "to damage it politically"


I wonder how many here you think will actually believe that?


If Republicans send a "good plan" to Obama, and he veto's it, this just gives them more ammunition is their sustained efforts to paint him as a bad President and brand Hillary a clone.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Apathy is what makes GA and America great, is what you are preaching?

Bob Yall
Bob Yall

I used to have a $1200 deductible with BC/BS for $223 monthly ...I now have a $2400 deducitble that costs me $345 a month for a 48 yr old healthy male... Thats OBAMA CARE... take from those of us who have worked hard, risked much, and been successful and give to those who have not... its a form of taxation, that I mandated to enroll in and it is social engineering and wealth redistribution in its purest form... Its not American... 

Claver
Claver

@Bob Yall As Kyle explained below, the plural of anecdote is not data.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

I'm somewhat surprised that you did not mention the coming employer mandate. Or will that be part two of your commentary? As you know, that provision was buried by a unilateral and unconstitutional executive order (the president does not have unilateral power and authority to change the provisions, schedules, and time tables in legislation passed by Congress - at least presidents who follow the law don't),  and it was buried again for the 2014 elections so as not to make things even worse than they turned out for the Dems.  


I am not sure of its status - if it will take effect before the 2016 election, or not. But I know that it is a major part of the law that the party who passed it does not want to take effect - at least not as long as they have to run in elections. If it is set up to take effect before November 2016, I am fairly confident that Obama will illegally delay it again.



When employers start sending their employees into the exchange, and they start losing their good employer provided insurance, and have to enter the system fraught with the problems set forth in your commentary, things are going to get ugly. 


Pretty ironic, I'd say. It was sold as the best thing ever to happen in America. All the good parts were immediately placed into full effect. And the tough parts delayed, and then delayed again, and perhaps even again. One might think that tif the thing is so gosh darned wonderful, the Dems would have had the courage of their convictions and pass the thing in its entirety and put it into full effect,  and run on its merits. Too much to expect these days. 


What was it that Hillary asked not long ago? Why are Republicans so afraid of democracy?  She actually did say that. LOL funny.



Bill & Ginny
Bill & Ginny

Kyle,

Man, let it go.  You and your ilk have been publishing this nonsense since ACA was first passed.  You promised to "repeal and substitute with a better alternative".  You have not come close to either.  This country does not need your type of naysayers.  We should be about improving - not just always trying to tear down.  For someone who would like to consider himself a "professional journalist", I certainly expect better.  It seems that my expectations are in vain!!

Regards,

WalterEgo
WalterEgo

And the beat goes on...and the beat goes on...drums pounding a rhythm to the brain.


How many "the sky is falling" articles about Obamacare do you have to print, Kyle, before getting a scintilla correct?  


...


Either increase the tax penalty for carrying no health insurance to make it more prohibitive (already found to be legal) or expand Medicare to allow people to buy into medicare.  Actually, I'll take ANY idea that insures more people and cost contains.  I will wager my life savings there will be No Kyle article forthcoming on his or any GOP idea capable of such.  A bunch of empty deconstructionist windbags.

Jim Retired
Jim Retired

I seems to me that most of our problems are caused by the love of money. We go to church, and talk about helping those less fortunate, and then our greed takes over and all we care about is the bottom line. The profit margin is more important than helping those in need or giving raises to the workers who produce the products. 

mackdenny
mackdenny

How come no one mentions the ONLY person to stop the immediate start of all of Obamacare's complete littany of rules and regulations is Obama himself?  We STILL haven't had all the bells and whistles kick in yet.  Wonder what things will look like a couple of years after that happens.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

Take a look as you walk through WalMart. Fat people buying sweet stuff, carbohyrdrates and soda pop. Getting fatter and fatter until they need an electric motor to bring them to their fat food. And they insist that other people pay for their medical care, as if it is their right. This is nuts. Crazy . In addiction, those that allow the addict to maintain his addiction are called enablers. Obamacare enables some of the ugliest, fattest, most selfish behaviors in the history of mankind.

kmsmits
kmsmits

Psst.  Once you have an increase of over 10000% of people paying and getting insurance the real question is WHY are premiums going up?  It doesn't make sense. Yes they are being increase but the DOJ should investigate.  Again it doesn't make sense.  AND do you think the old standards were working?  As they say on ESPN, 'C'mon Man'.  

Manman
Manman

Kyle Wingfield is right! Universal Healthcare for all! Oh, wait, by the tone of the article sounds like he'd rather we do NOTHING and let the poor and disenfranchised of our society die. Because that's what good Conservative Christians do.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@Manman

How much did you donate to charity last year to make your dream of health care for all a reality?

jezel
jezel

Pssst. Why can the GOP not come up with another plan? How about creating more medical schools, tripling the number of doctors, building more hospitals, regulate or un regulate the pharmaceutical industry so there is more competition, regulate or un regulate insurance companies so they must compete. Competition will always create a better product at a lower price.

Starik
Starik

The solution is obvious - Medicare for all ages.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@Starik 

Medicare needs as many reforms, if not more reforms than Obamacare.

CheesesteakBob
CheesesteakBob

Thank you Kyle, for countering Bookman's Democommie babble on Obamacare. You know you are right and have hit a nerve when all the proggies come out in attack mode.  Please keep telling the truth, unlike many at the AJC who wouldn't know fair reporting if it bit in the butt.

Ralph-25
Ralph-25

Well Kyle - you are hired.  One of the best arguments for Improved-Medicare-For-All.  Everybody pays their fair share.  Every physician knows what the reimbursement will be.  Everybody's plan is the same and all are covered and receive care without hassle, network, annual re-evaluation of available plans, taxable penalties, undiscovered and unreported fraud and abuse, etc., etc. Works nicely in other advanced countries.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@Ralph-43

Why did Vermont decide they couldn't afford it?

Oh, right--they aren't able to print their own money.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

@Ralph-43

I already pay my fair share.  Everybody's plan will not or ever be the same.  The rich will always get better health care - in this country or in some other.  Expecting a homeless person to get the same health coverage as Hilary Clinton is insane.  If other countries have it so nice... ... ... ...

HIbought theRefs
HIbought theRefs

@Ralph-43 Yes, but Kyle would never go for it. because, you know, it's SOCIALIZED MEDICINE! Single payer plan.... OMG, insurance businesses would be busted.  


Mustang100
Mustang100

I'm rolling my entire retirement portfolio to Kool-Aid stock.

straker
straker

Rafe - "suggestions and offers to reopen the act"


No, see, the Republicans control BOTH the House and Senate and have vowed to repeal Obamacare.


They haven't, and their only solution seems to be constant criticism. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@straker Takes 60 votes to get a begin debate in the Senate, no matter who is in the majority, so name one Dem who would vote to help the GOP open the gate, much less 6.   We will be waiting straker.

Claver
Claver

@RafeHollister @straker There certainly would be 6 votes to reopen it if the GOP won't even say what they plan to replace it with.

RonMexico
RonMexico

Kyle, why won't you answer @LogicalDude's question from this morning about the Republican alternative to the ACA? You seem more than happy to get into it with commenters here, but for some reason you've chosen to ignore this one. 

So I'll ask again on his behalf, since the question has been pushed so far down the page:

What is your alternative to the ACA, Kyle? The GOP has had FIVE FULL YEARS to present a plan that would ensure that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare, yet all we get from you is crickets and temper tantrums about repealing the law (which ain't happening).

"Repeal and replace! Repeal and replace!" you all scream. Ok, Replace with what? 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RonMexico I've answered that question so many times in the past, without it seeming to make any difference to any of the people who scream about it, that I don't see the point in answering it over and over again. But I'll give it one more go:

There are various Republican plans out there. Some are better than others, but none of them stands a shot of becoming law as long as Obama is president. He would veto every one of them. And frankly, their chances don't improve much with a Republican in the White House except in the unlikely event that Republican chooses to delegate that huge matter to Congress. Rather, a Republican president is more likely to push his/her own plan, which may draw elements from the various congressional GOP plans but probably wouldn't look exactly like any of them.

That was the problem with the 2012 election in a nutshell: The GOP in its wisdom nominated the one candidate who couldn't credibly offer an alternative to Obamacare, because he had implemented it as governor of Massachusetts. It was the main reason I couldn't support Romney for the nomination. I wasn't sure any of the others could win, but I was certain Romney couldn't. The fact that he made it so close at the end is a testament to how vulnerable Obama was.

In the meantime, the chief result of sending a plan up for a veto by Obama would be to damage it politically. If it's a good plan, that makes no sense from a Republican standpoint. I can only suppose that's why folks like you keep screaming for that to happen, assuming you've actually thought about it.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@Kyle_Wingfield 

"There are various Republican plans out there." 

Please identify one, by name. Just one. And by "plan," I mean something on paper, with explanations of how it would work and who would be covered, not just platitudes about "choice" and "freedom." None exists. Five years, Kyle.

"The fact that he made it so close at the end is a testament to how vulnerable Obama was."

You sure do have an interesting definition of "close at the end." Obama won in 2012 by 3.5 million votes, and won the electoral college 332-206. That's called a blowout, and a mandate. Especially considering up to the last day of the campaign, Faux "News" and every other right-wing outlet was certain Romney was going to win. Remember Karl Rove's little meltdown on live TV? That was fun.

 "In the meantime, the chief result of sending a plan up for a veto by Obama would be to damage it politically."
Gotcha. The "our plan is so good we're not gonna even talk about it until a Republican is in the White House" plan.  And when, exactly, has the threat of a veto meant anything to this congress? How many times have they tried to repeal the ACA, knowing full well that Obama would veto every time? 

Give it up, man. You're making a fool of yourself.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RonMexico "Please identify one, by name."
Well, here's the latest: https://tomprice.house.gov/HR2300

"You sure do have an interesting definition of 'close at the end.'"

Well, let's see: On Nov. 1 Romney actually led the Real Clear Politics average of national polls: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

Romney came up 64 electoral votes short of winning. (The national popular vote, as we know, means nothing in presidential elections.) Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia have exactly 64 EVs among them. Had a total of less than 215,000 people switched their votes in those states, Romney would have won them, and the electoral count 270-268.

Would it have caused a huge uproar to have a president elected while losing the popular vote for the second time in four elections? Yes. Would Romney have been the president nonetheless? Yes. So I'd say in actual, practical terms, it was closer than most people realize.

And I see you have no actual answer for the reality that it will take a Republican president to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that that person would most likely have his/her own plan, only insults. Gotcha.

GeorgiaRedNeck
GeorgiaRedNeck

@Kyle_Wingfield @RonMexico What is wrong with the GOP just improving what's there now? The GOP does not want to improve it because it is Obamacare. No other reason exists.
 That's a pretty pathetic political party.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@GeorgiaRedNeck What's pathetic is the notion, all that some people seem to hold, that the only possible explanation for opposition to President Obama's policies is a personal dislike of him. 

DMayr
DMayr

@Kyle_Wingfield @RonMexico Please, oh please: share a link or a hint of where this non rhetoric-based, substance and details-oriented GOP Plan to replace the ACA. Even Boehner, Ryan and company don't know where it is. They refer to this magical unicorn, yet cannot seem to actually offer a keystroke, syllable or hint of detail. They've been called out on it literally every time they complain about the ACA, yet can't provide anything but rhetoric.

Why is that?


DMayr
DMayr

@Kyle_Wingfield @RonMexico In fact, share a link to any of the snippets of a GOP plan might be. You infer above that, for some reason, if the GOP can't guarantee it'll pass, they must keep it hidden until the evil Obama is gone or he'll see it and steal its soul or something. Which would be shame because it's so awesome and comprehensive and does all of the good that the ACA does but magically, none of the bad things. And the red-meat Liptonites won't immediately pounce on it and wreak internal havoc in the GOP for any of the petty reasons they gripe about the ACA over.


Please: share this wonderfulness so we may bask in its comprehensive glory.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kyle_Wingfield the chief result of sending a plan up for a veto by Obama would be to damage it politically.

You lost me here.  If it's a good plan and you can get people to back the Party up on it... what's the damage?  In fact, it would damage the Democrats to veto it. 

Or is the real damage in just finding out that the Party can't really come up with a plan?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe How many bills that get vetoed, or elements of bills that got vetoed, end up becoming law (short of an override)?

HIbought theRefs
HIbought theRefs

@Kyle_Wingfield @RonMexico Various plans? Other than Tom Price's babbling plan, where are you finding anything that is more detailed than "repeal ACA and go back to letting it all be decided by state insurance commissioners, who take hefty contributions from insurers and medical lobbyist alike"? 

And Price's plan is much more than, but at least he's actually had his staff put it in the form of a bill.


DMayr
DMayr

@Kyle_Wingfield @DMayr Thanks; I suspected you were referring to this. While long and certainly aimed at many elements of healthcare, this does NOTHING to address the technical shortcomings of healthcare providers prior to the ACA. The HITECH Act specifically addressed the lack of electronic health records that led to the incredible inefficiencies and administrative redundancies of providers using paper-based records or closed-system EHRs. Adults who were serious about fixing America's real problems took these things into consideration. This is laughable, at best...


This is just one of the many failings of this half-hearted attempt to claim 'We can replace big, bad Obamacare" that misguided pundits like yourself rely on.


As adults in the argument already know: there is no serious plan from the GOP; only hot wind and rhetoric. 

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kyle_Wingfield Again: HOW DOES THAT DAMAGE IT POLITICALLY?  And if it's a good plan, why wouldn't it get passed?  You claim "Obama" just the same way as we're saying that that's Obama's reason the Republicans won't accept ACA.

If it got vetoed and the American people wanted it, you'd see a Republican win the White House to make sure it happened.  So exactly where is the damage?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe Are you really suggesting Obama would sign a repeal-and-replace bill? And are you really suggesting that a Republican president would be happy to try to implement a complex, wide-ranging health bill that he/she had no hand in creating? Because I don't believe either of those things.

I do believe, however, that bills that receive vetoes that can't be overridden are pretty much dead letters as far as their legislative future is concerned. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DMayr You said there was no plan. I pointed you to a plan. You don't have to agree with it, but it's not exactly accurate to say that a "non rhetoric-based, substance and details-oriented GOP Plan" is a "magic unicorn" that doesn't exist, now is it?

DMayr
DMayr

@Kyle_Wingfield @DMayr My agreement notwithstanding: this barely addresses a fraction of the substance that the ACA covers. By being comprehensive, the ACA is real and is the basis (albeit imperfect in some respects) for real change to the expensive, inefficient healthcare market that has been crippling the US. By being comprehensive, it had to do it all, not just cherry pick a few attractive elements and skim over the unappealing or extremely complex elements. The ACA isn't pretty or perfect or 100% accurate, but it's a serious change in the right direction. Price's plan is shallow and self serving, and cannot even be considered in the same conversation.


Claiming this is a real plan is just more intellectual dishonesty, and you do your base and your credibility a tremendous disservice.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DMayr On the contrary, one of the main weaknesses of the ACA is its creators' insistence on a "comprehensive" plan. The market, such as it was, was not broken for all Americans. It did not need to be changed for all Americans in order to address the comparatively smaller group of people who truly needed help.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Kyle_Wingfield @ByteMe You keep avoiding the question, Kyle. 


WHAT IS THE DAMAGE to the Republicans if they present a good bill?  IF people really like it, they will see the good that it can do, and it would damage Democrats from trying to get the good bill implemented.