The gist of the message is that, from the outset, the calculations used to sell Obamacare to the American public were slipshod and/or naive and/or mistaken and/or simplistic and/or outright lies (see more here).
And this is news to exactly whom?
The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation.
Millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage. Many workers at small businesses won’t get a choice of insurance plans right away. Large employers won’t need to provide insurance for another year. Far more states than expected won’t run their own insurance marketplaces. And a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage.
That’s one of the reasons that many people are distrustful of large federal government programs in the first place.
Small pilot programs are a better way to experiment with things. Local and state programs are another way to experiment with things—and then keep, or expand, the ones that seem to work. Redesigning the health care insurance system of the entire US at one fell swoop is inherently risky, and the promises that this would constitute an improvement should always have been taken with a grain of salt—even by liberals (I know; dream on).
Actually, when Obama assured the American people that their health insurance premiums would be lowered by [emphasis mine] “up to $2,500 for a typical family per year” he was saying absolutely nothing on the face of it, although he was counting on his listeners to hear something and like what they heard.
But a statement such as his merely means that a “typical” family (whatever that is; a family of four? living in what state?) would face a ceiling of $2,500 for the amount its premiums might be lowered per year. He’d be technically correct if a single “typical” family had its premiums lowered $2,500, and all the other families of that type had theirs lowered by a dollar. Or even had them raised.
In other words, it was a meaningless statement.
What will actually happen is anyone’s guess, including the author of this Forbes piece critical of Obama. One reason is that there is no “typical” family, because (a) the present state-to-state variation among what families of the same size are paying is vast; and (b) since poorer families will be subsidized by less-poor ones, families of the same size will end up paying very different premiums depending on income. So even an average premium would tell us very little.
What’s more, Obamacare is supposed to be financed in part by the famous individual mandate. But the penalty for not enrolling is far less than the yearly premium would be for most people and families, and since a person or family can enroll in Obamacare without increased penalty as soon as he/she experiences a decline in health, many people will probably wait to enroll. How will that affect the premiums of the others? Let’s just say it’s unlikely to make them go down.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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