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ACA Fail Fractal
Doctorless and Broke, America Lumbers On

The Obama administration made two big admissions about Obamacare this week. First in an interview posted online today with WebMD, Obama conceded that at least some Americans will have to switch doctors under new ACA plans:

For the average person, many folks who don’t have health insurance initially, they’re going to have to make some choices. They might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they’re saving money. But that’s true, you know, if your employer suddenly decides we think this network’s going to give a better deal, we think this is going to help keep premiums lower, you’ve got to use this doctor as opposed to that one or this hospital as opposed to that one.

Second, earlier this week this exchange happened:

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010,” [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius said in response to a question from Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.).

“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” she said during testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Obama was also hedging his backpedal, noting that “in most states” people will have more than one insurer option and so should be able to find a plan that includes their doctor.  But even if both of these hedges prove to be correct—and we have our doubts—the reality of the ACA is still very different from what we were sold. People were supposed to have the ability to keep the plans and the doctors they liked, and premiums were supposed to go down for the average American. Both of these promises remain unmet.

And yet, despite all of this, the law is becoming more and more “entrenched,” both institutionally and in the public consciousness. Bloomberg reports that 64 percent of Americans now either support the ACA or want to see only minor changes to it (h/t Ben Domenech). This speaks to the deep aversion Americans had to the pre-ACA status quo.

The Bloomberg poll does provide one bright spot for Obamacare critics. Though support for repeal is low, 73 percent of those opposed to the law consider it a “major decider” of their vote. Only 33 percent of those who want no changes to the ACA, on the other hand, consider it a major decider. Whether the special election in Florida is repeated throughout the country during the midterms may have more to do with voter turnout than with majority national sentiment on the issue.

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  • Boritz

    From Rasmussen, March 10, 2014;

    40% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the new
    national health care law, while 56% view it unfavorably.

    Fifty-eight percent (58%) continue to believe that the cost of health care will
    go up under the new law.

    Twenty-one percent (21%) of voters think the quality of health care will get
    better under the new law. But a plurality (47%) disagrees and believes health
    care quality will get worse.
    Yeah, that’s some aversion to pre-ACA if they believe these things but don’t want repeal. You sure?

    • Corlyss

      That’s the central mystery to me too. I have not yet seen a single survey that even attempts to get to the bottom of this paradox. Respondents are probably the same idiots who had insurance (86% of workers) and who were happy with their insurance (80+% of those who had insurance) but who were deeply worried (very charitable of them) about their friends and neighbors and illegal aliens who didn’t have insurance and who have been relentlessly propagandized for the last 48 years about how horrible the American medical care and insurance systems are. So because they never bothered to find out the facts and because it sounded like the compassionate solution to a problem that likely never existed, they leapt blindly into an ocean of fatuous promises underpinned by magical economic thinking that is Obamacare and, lo! discover a landscape littered with their own noses. Now they will pay more for inferior coverage and likely suffer job and hours cuts, WHILE, exquisitely, the very ones they thought they were helping by such unanticipated self-sacrifice don’t want the “help” and, equally deliciously, won’t pay their pittance to help themselves. This is a paradigm of modern social public policy.

      It’s a situation so fraught with tragic irony I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

      • Fred

        Yes, the American public is a mob composed largely of people too stupid to get their shoes on the right feet. We live in interesting times.

      • Andrew Allison

        They said smile, it could be worse; so I smiled, and it got worse.

      • qet

        The only mystery is how anyone could still think that a series of survey questionnaires could provide any reliable guidance on collective American political behavior. Perhaps, if one confines one’s definition of “political behavior” to “which of the two parties will more voters in the aggregate likely choose if the next election were held today” (with “likely” being ony a probabilistic concept anyway), then such surveys are useful, to the likes of Karl Rove and his ilk who are paid solely for their ability to predict voting booth selection from a highly contricted range of choice. But to actually understand how we could arrive at where we are today, right now, with this Frankenstein’s monster known as the ACA? No survey or series of surveys of microscopic sample sizes can provide any meaningful guidance.

  • Peripatetic

    If, then, the two claims in this article are true — Americans hated pre-ACA conditions and there are now energized voters who will punish Democrats — the next question is this: what, exactly, will Republicans do with healthcare when they regain power? Shall we prepare ourselves for a David Cameron-type of Republicanism?

    • Bruce

      “Shall we prepare ourselves for a David Cameron-type of Republicanism?” Of course. Isn’t that you would expect from Mitch McConnell (assuming he holds on), John Boehner Republicanism? They spend more time attacking the true conservatives in their party than they do attacking leftist Dems. There is little hope that will change. The perks of power are hard to give up and more enjoyable when you “go along.”

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