mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
September Could be the Cruelest Month for Obamacare


The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn has been a vocal supporter of Obamacare, but in his latest piece he stops just short of calling Obama’s recent remarks on rate spikes a lie. The piece, entitled “Obama Made a Misleading Statement About Obamacare Rates,” considers Obama’s claim that those currently uninsured will get “significantly cheaper” insurance rates under the new exchanges. Cohn notes the problem:

And while some people will pay less than they pay today, some will pay more. They will primarily be young, healthy men who benefited from preferential pricing in the past, were content with coverage that had huge gaps, and are too wealthy to qualify for the law’s tax credits—which are substantial but phase out at higher incomes….

But somebody listening to Obama’s press conference probably wouldn’t grasp that distinction. They’d come away thinking their insurance will be cheaper next year. For some, it won’t be. Obama isn’t doing himself, or the law, any favors by fostering a false expectation.

Cohn’s loaded language aside (“preferential pricing”), he has the facts exactly right. For the young—women and men, though it will be worse for the latter—prices will go up, in some cases dramatically. Giving people the option to sign up for less generous, catastrophic plans might have mitigated these increases, but the administration chose to foreclose that option. The success of Obamacare depends on supporters’ ability to convince the young to sign up anyway.

But a new survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund finds a major roadblock to that effort: only 27 percent of 19–29 year olds said they knew about the option to purchase insurance in the Obamacare exchanges. So in addition to people’s natural resistance to signing up for an expensive product they may not even feel like they need, the ACA will have to deal with serious information poverty.

Will the exchanges will actually open on October 1st? Given the administration’s record in making deadlines so far, all ACA deadlines are looking pretty fluid at this point. Avik Roy looks at a memo from the Congressional research service, and finds that the White House has missed half of the 82 legally mandated deadlines for ACA implementation.

Misleading rhetoric, anxious supporters, widespread ignorance of the law’s deadlines, and a recurring administrative failure to meet those deadlines—September is shaping up to be a rough month for the ACA.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service