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ACA Fail Fractal
Unions, Uninsured More Skeptical of Obamacare Than Ever

Two union bosses are responding to the State of the Union by slamming the Obama administration’s refusal to meet their demands regarding the Affordable Care Act. As the WSJ reports, the presidents of UniteHere and the Laborers International Union of North America wrote an open letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, urging them to pressure the administration to extend subsidies to union insurance plans. They argued that without these changes the ACA could end up harming their lower- and middle-class members:

Since 2012, union leaders have complained that many of the law’s requirements will drive up costs for union-sponsored health-care plans managed jointly by unions and mostly small employers, potentially causing unionized employers, or even unions, to drop the plans that cover more than 20 million people.

They’re not the only ones who think Obamacare could have adverse effects on the working class. A new Kaiser Health tracking poll conducted January 14–21 shows that the ACA is less popular with the uninsured than it was in December:

Among the uninsured – a key group for outreach under the law – unfavorable views now outnumber favorable views by roughly a 2-to-1 margin (47 percent versus 24 percent). This is a change from last month when 43 percent of the uninsured had an unfavorable view and 36 percent were favorable. More of those without coverage say the law has made the uninsured as a group worse off (39 percent) than better off (26 percent). Despite these views, large shares of the uninsured see health insurance as “very important” and say they need it, while four in ten say they’ve tried to get coverage in the past 6 months, and half expect to get it this year.

Still, the last numbers in that summary show that Americans by and large want universal coverage, whatever they may think about the ACA’s way of going about it. And here the pervasive dysfunction that had been driving up costs and restricting access in U.S. health care before the ACA has yet to be addressed. The more expensive the system is, the harder it is to expand access. It’s past time for a more robust conversation on  how to make health care itself—not just health insurance premiums—cheaper.

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  • Andrew Allison

    “Americans by and large want universal coverage,” but are unwilling to pay for it, hence the need for the mandates.

    • qet

      Correction: each American wants coverage but only if someone else pays for it. This is really a case where the continued reference to collective preference shown by statistical data utterly fails to reflect the reality of a world of individuals.

      • Andrew Allison

        Au contraire, the reality is that 2/3 of those signing up were already paying for insurance which got cancelled thanks to ACA. Dollars to doughnuts that the remaining third qualified for the subsidies which those who don’t are paying.

  • qet

    Meanwhile Wonkblog and MoneyBox, using poll data which shows that, given a choice between Obamacare and a Seinfeld reunion, Americans overwhelmingly prefer Obamacare, will write that Obamacare’s popularity is at an all-time high.

  • Anthony

    Health care in America: who receives it, who pays for it, how is it provided, ought it be provided to America’s citizens, under what conditions, though which vehicles/institutions/structures/economics, etc. These (and probably others) are germane 21st century concerns more so than counterposing ACA and health care itself before or after Obamacare).

    • Andrew Allison

      Anthony, you misstate the case in a fundamental way: the issue is simply who pays for it. As noted below, if my AGI were $1000 less, my “ACA” premium would be halved. The difference is nothing more than a highly-selective tax on the middle class: I’ll decide, thank you very much, how I make my (tax deductible) charitable contributions.

  • Boritz

    They argued that without these changes the ACA could end up harming their lower- and middle-class members

    Are they old or young? That’s what makes a difference. The young are expected to pay more. Or did they think they were one big family?

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