THCB

Why Is Obamacare So Unpopular?

Views on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare, a.k.a. Health Reform) are mixed. Despite the fact that many people support individual provisions, overall, the measure is unpopular. Why would that be the case?

A revealing Health Affairs interview with Cythnia Morgan, may reveal the answer. Morgan is a fifty-eight-year-old former hotel manager, has been out of work and uninsured for the past three years. Her income is low, but not low enough to quality for Medicaid. She is exactly the type of person the health insurance exchange is supposed to help. So why wouldn’t like someone like her support the Exchanges?

After being told of how the ACA’s health insurance exchanges would work, she stated:

“Oh, God, that would be great—if there’s going to be a plan that’s affordable. But come on now, it’s really hard to believe.”

A Democrat would read this and claim that Mrs. Morgan is ignorant of the provisions and yes, in fact, this is exactly what the ACA will do. Republicans will say that Mrs. Morgan is 100 percent correct. Although the provisions do promise affordable care, she is correct to be skeptical that government can deliver on this promise when private industry could not.

My Take

When asked, most people support the individual provisions of the ACA. This is not surprising since expanding entitlements are generally popular. The biggest backlash against the ACA is not the individual provisions, but a skepticism that government can deliver on their promises without making the health insurance market worse than it already is. With tightening provider networks and higher deductibles, the question is whether the insurance products that will be made available in the Exchanges are products that consumers really want to buy. That remains to be seen.

Jason Shafrin is a Ph.D. Economist and Research Associate at Acumen, LLC. His research interests include all issues related to healthcare policy and economics, the health insurance market, and Medicare research. Shafrin is also founder of the blog Healthcare Economist, where this post was originally published.

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QuinnPolitics DebunkedBob HertzRoy FoutsBobby Gladd Recent comment authors
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Quinn
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Quinn

Four paragraphs? Your analysis is as superficial as the Affordable Health Care Act is outrageously long.

bob hertz
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For the last 30 years, insurers have made money by good tight underwriting.

(I mean good for them, not the public)

Paying $20,000 vs $30,000 for heart surgey has been less important than insuring people who do not need any heart surgery.

What will happen now is different — I do not know the answer.

Politics Debunked
Guest

re: “With tightening provider networks and higher deductibles,” Higher deductibles make sense since people save money. Insurance companies bet that on average they will take in more in premiums than they pay out in expenses and rig things so they win the bet and you lose on average. The key is to bet as little as possible by having a higher deductible and a health savings account… and Obamacare will limit the highest deductibles next year as a favor to insurers to sell more expensive policies. Government interventions limit competition in the insurance industry so almost all markets are oligopolies,… Read more »

Bob Hertz
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I have said for years that if everyone who does not own a business or make a high salary voted Democratic, and everyone who does own a business and make a high salary voted Republican………then the Democrats would win every election by huge margins and we would have Medicare for all. But over and over again, many potential Democratic voters take a Republican position. We alerady know about God, guns, gay marriage and abortion as divisive issues. The interesting question now, is what is producing the defection of natural Democrats on the ACA? The mandate is one thing. The reduced… Read more »

Roy Fouts
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Roy Fouts

Yes Becky, MEDICARE does work…but moving from a fee for service based system with multiple payers to a single payer system is a huge transition. And I would not be totally forth coming if I didn’t opine that much of the resistance to the Affordable Care Act is a personal vendetta aimed at our current president. Just my opinion of course…but I feel compelled to mention it. One more point is that MEDICARE has been an evolving process as will the Affordable Care Act…getting it right out of the box is never the case nor is it the goal…times change… Read more »

Becky Spoon
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Becky Spoon

I disagree. I think the part that everybody hates is forcing individuals to have to purchase unreliable, over-priced, defective products from amoral, insatiably greedy private corporations with absolutely NO right to choose any not-for-profit public option what-so-ever. When Obama said, “If you like what you have, you can keep it” he should have pointed out that “what we have” (according to all the evidence and facts) is by FAR the most expensive and least reliable health coverage non-system on Earth (and we’d have to be collective idiots for wanting to keep it). Medicare works. Let’s build on that instead of… Read more »

Bobby Gladd
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Bobby Gladd

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.