“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.