The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Obamacare's PR Problem: Not Just a Flesh Wound

obamacare

“Confusion, total confusion.” That’s how a Michigan consumer advocate describes her state’s campaign to enroll citizens in the new Obamacare insurance plans. Mass uncertainty about the details of the ACA and a flurry of negative stories in the press have sent the law’s supporters scurrying across the country to educate the public before October 1, when open enrollment in the new insurance plans starts. The NYT reports:

The fact that so many people are unaware of their new options has the potential to undermine the entire purpose of the health care law. Congress provided hundreds of billions of dollars for expanded coverage, but it did not fully account for the difficulty or expense of getting people to sign up [...]

Trinity hospitals in the Muskegon area already employ community health workers who knock on doors and buttonhole neighbors at football games and laundromats, offering to help them get insurance. Other health care providers and health plans want to replicate that model.

There’s a good chance a lot of this frenzy will calm down. As time passes, the hype will die out and the more obvious kinks in the law will get straightened out. Obamacare will not usher in some kind of apocalypse.

Nevertheless, Obamacare’s poor public image problem isn’t going away. Today’s coverage alone links the law to everything from adjunct pay cuts to underfunded insurance programs to states forcing people off their current plans. And that’s not to mention the many predictions about rising costs and lost coverage. As we said, some of this is probably overstated, but until the ACA’s supporters realize that people are worried about the actual effects of the law (rather than merely confused about what it is), all the outreach in the world won’t get very far.

Published on April 24, 2013 1:30 pm
  • lehnne

    I would suggest that the economic impact from this “train wreck” will make current PR issues the good old days for this administration

    • bobofromtexas

      #1 Republican talking point for 2014.

      Is this the Hope&Change! that you voted for?

  • B Thomas

    Perhaps President Obama (as well as WRM) have ignored the Powell Doctrine – If you break it, you own it.
    It would seem that we are beginning to see its application from a front row seat.

  • Dantes

    You do not get it yet. The transformation of medical care at the grass roots level is the insidious poison of Obamacare, and that’s what you need to be talking about. Go here for a primer.

    http://reason.com/archives/2013/04/22/how-government-killed-the-medical-profes

  • Gmama

    So now billions will be spent on PR and advertising. What a mess this is.

    My husband is self insured, and his premium already went from 200 to 360 monthly due to Obamacare. His agent told him it was going to be much, much worse come December when it is fully implemented.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.rollinson.54 John Rollinson

      Exactly. I’m unemployed & “living” off my dead wife’s death “benefits.” I can’t afford a doctor- let alone paying for this fraud. WTF am I supposed to do? I did not vote for this mess

    • Jim Luebke

      One of the brighter ideas on Healthcare Reform that got tossed around in the debate that was occurring before ObamaCare got shoved down our throats was the idea that the cost differential between self-insurance and company group insurance was unreasonably high, and insurance needed to be flexible enough to deal with people changing jobs or being self-employed.

      Looks like once again, ObamaCare isn’t about the actual problems, just Leftist utopianism.

  • David M. Brown

    How does the author know that “the more obvious kinks in the law will get straightened out”? Have the more obvious kinks in all the other unconstitutional government programs gotten straightened out? Obamacare will impose a tax penalty on me for not buying insurance. Is this a “confusion” on my part, a “PR problem” for the Obama administration, both or something else? When will this kink of penalizing me for not being involved in a government program be “straightened out”?

    • http://profiles.google.com/segesta65 A Smith

      Well said. Similarly, there’s been a DMV for 90 years; do they have the kinks worked out?

  • Billy___Bob

    I prefer to the term decimation to apocalypse, Sure you’ll have health care. But 1 in 10 of you will die sooner than you would because it will be rationed. There will be long waiting lists. If the list is longer than you would live without treatment, you will die.

  • EricSteel

    Obamacare is a stalking horse for single payer. When it fails the Democrats will then claim that everything else has been tried and single payer is the only option left.

  • bbwh

    destroy this garbage
    it will only cripple the US

  • GardenGnomeLF

    What we know for sure is that the rich, powerful and politically connected will have wonderful healthcare while we get screwed over, just like all other socialist countries.

  • skhpcola

    “Obamacare will not usher in some kind of apocalypse.”

    Your optimism is unwarranted and unfounded. The experts predict fewer doctors, astronomically higher costs, lower availability of actual health care, longer waits for care, and refusal by “authorities” to provide life-saving drugs. How do you take all of that and hand-wave it into a prediction of a simple problem? Bureaucrats have never and will never solve a problem of the magnitude that is about to be foisted onto our health care sector. What bureaucrats are really expert at is creating externalities and (un)intended consequences that harm the constituents that are too ignorant to reject the bureaucrats or their policies.

  • Goldenah

    I see a future of black market “doctors”, people paying cash for medical services, under the table basement surgical operations and lots of folks going overseas.