Checking Up On Obamacare

healthcare reformMy Comments: I started my career in financial services 40 years ago selling health insurance policies. I’ve long since lost track of the number of individuals, families and businesses I’ve worked with to give them proper coverage.

My alarming memory over the years, until recently, was the dramatic rise in premiums from year to year. Way above and beyond the published inflation numbers. This meant that more and more people were forced to go without insurance or have contracts that were pathetic in what they covered.

The Affordable Care Act was and is a comprehensive way to remedy this problem. It has its own set of problems but I’ve championed it from the beginning since what we had was fast becoming a disaster for Americans of every economic stripe.

The fanatic objection to the Act by those in the Republican party continues to annoy and amaze me. Trying to go back to the way it was without offering any meaningful remedy for the earlier problems seems beyond stupid. Think how much better it could be today if there was any kind of effort to face reality and find some fixes.

December 23, 2015 by Paul Krugman

One of the remarkable aspects of the politics of health reform is the way conservatives — even relatively mild, seemingly informed conservatives — have managed to keep believing that Obamacare is unraveling, despite the repeated failure of disaster predictions to come true. Part of the way this works is that captive media and the right’s pet “experts” hype every bit of bad news, but go silent when the news is good (and, often, when the bad news turns out to have been a false alarm.) How many will even hear about the news that enrollments are once again running above expectations, and the pool is getting younger?

Anyway, it’s really helpful to have this new report from the Commonwealth Fund comparing actual performance with pre-implementation predictions. Premiums came in far below expectations; part, but only part, of this positive surprise was given back by 2016 premium hikes, with overall costs still looking very good.

On enrollments: fewer people than expected signed up for the exchanges, but an important reason was that fewer employers than expected ended coverage and moved their employees into the individual market. Meanwhile, Medicaid expanded more than expected — and the overall reduction in the number of uninsured was pretty much in line with forecasts.

So the program is achieving its goals, albeit with a somewhat different mix of kinds of insurance than predicted, and doing so more cheaply than expected. That’s a big success story — and remember, the critics scoffed at those expectations and predicted utter disaster.