While our easily distracted nation has been preoccupied with political horse races, insults on debate stages, and brawling at campaign rallies, some of the real issues facing the country plod on. It’s just that no one is paying any attention to them.
Consider the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare. It’s been up and operational for several years now. So, how is it doing?
It turns out that Obamacare is facing a number of challenges and is in what a recent Washington Post editorial describes as “an awkward place.” The problem is that although people are still enrolling, they’re not doing so at the rates that were forecast when the new law’s financial viability was evaluated. If there are fewer enrollments than were estimated, or the mix of new enrollees doesn’t include as many young and healthy people as was originally projected, then the Affordable Care Act could produce substantial premium price increases rather than what the statute’s name promises.
Another aspect of this complicated law is whether it is offering good insurance choices for people. The Investor’s Business Daily recently published an article that focused on how the Affordable Care Act is working in Mississippi, which is one of the underinsured places that were a focus of the statute in the first place. The IBD article found that enrollments of uninsured people in Mississippi were disappointing — just 38% of those eligible for subsidies — that the premium costs for the cheapest “bronze” plans are spiking, and that the increased expense may cause some people to opt for paying the uninsured, individual mandate tax rather than buying insurance as they are supposed to do. Still other articles, from the New York Times and elsewhere, have reported that many people believe that while subsidies might be holding down premium costs in some states, high deductible amounts, which require the insured person to pay cash out of pocket before the insurance kicks in, are making some plans bought on the exchanges unaffordable and unusable.
The Affordable Care Act was a huge new governmental program, hotly debated and the subject of strong opposition from Republicans. How is it working, really? We deserve to know, and un any rational world, candidates of both parties would be debating that very important issue. In this crazy year, however, the news media and the public have been distracted by the Trump phenomenon and all of its embarrassing nuttiness, so even in Republican debates the Affordable Care Act gets short shrift. And does anyone really believe that, if Donald Trump somehow becomes the Republican nominee, he’ll work to understand the workings of this complex law, and be able to say anything other than that it is a “disaster” and he’ll “repeal and replace it with something much better”?