Except for the undetermined numbers of people who are getting an extension, it’s Obamacare deadline day, and statistics and spin about it have been released.
You can find articles nearly everywhere in the MSM on the success of the six million signups. Or the six million enrollments. Or the six million somethings. How many have paid or will pay, how many are well or ill or young or old, how many are largely subsidized, how many are only there because they lost their previous insurance through Obamacare, and how many are actually necessary for the success of the program? Only the Shadow knows, or at least the government’s not saying if indeed it does know, and what it says today may be quite different from what it says tomorrow.
In some ways it doesn’t matter. Obamacare is so central to Democrats’ plans that they will do whatever they can to continue it, and say whatever they need to say to make it sound successful. It’s no great trick to promise vast numbers of people free stuff (or nearly-free stuff) if you’re the federal government and you can print more money or take it from other people. And if your partners the insurance companies are hurting, you can cover for them for a while, too. You can do all of it for a while.
And it always has been clear that there will be many success stories to trumpet. I don’t think that even Obamacare’s harshest critics ever contended that it will be bad for everyone. But it has already been, and will continue to be, bad for many many people. It was completely unnecessary, too, in order to redress problems such as pre-existing conditions or portability, but it’s pretty clear that was not really the goal.
The PR campaign on both sides will almost undoubtedly feature a bunch of people citing dueling anecdotal evidence, most of which will be meaningless because a couple of stories one way or the other are meaningless. It will also almost undoubtedly be the case that all the success stories will involve subsidies of one kind or another, and the pro-Obamacare forces will act as though the money transfer involved is on the order of manna falling from heaven.
Plus, enrollment numbers are one thing. The actual insurance that people will receive is another, as well as how it all will affect the much larger employment-based health insurance market. My guess is that most people on the exchanges have no idea what they signed up for, and won’t know till they have to use the health care system. What doctors and hospitals will be covered? Do they understand how high their deductibles might be? For those newly on Medicaid (who would not be among the six million), will they be able to get care at all outside of the emergency rooms?
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.