Monday, December 16, 2013

Blame Obamacare/Disappearing Obamacare

Kevin Drum notes that everyone is blaming Obamacare for things that would happen anyway, and that the incentive structure calls for this to continue, for a while at least. Sam Baker had a longer, and also good, item about this last week.

I'm gonna be churlish and say: Called it! Way back when I was a wee baby blogger, and months before the ACA passed:

On health care, it's safe to predict (if the bill passes) that even though few provisions will go into effect before the 2010 and 2012 election, Obama and the Democrats will totally own health care, at least for high-information GOP primary voters. We can expect lots of medical horror stories (true ones -- there are always true medical horror stories) that are attributed to Obamacare. On top of that, there will be death panels; not real ones, of course, but newly invented scary future effects of the newly passed bill. Any Republican who cut a deal and voted for that bill will be risking the blame, along with all Democrats, for every medical horror story that happens for the rest of their careers, but especially over the next couple election cycles (I should note that Republicans are hardly alone in that; for the past forty years Democrats have pinned all medical horror stories on reform-blocking GOP candidates. The special genius of the 2010 and 2012 cycles is that the responsibility will flip, at least for GOP primary voters, even though reform won't yet be implemented).
Okay, so I should have added the 2014 cycle, too, and probably 2016 as well.

I still believe, by the way, that "Obamacare" will eventually disappear, at least assuming it's reasonably successful. Of course, the fiasco in October wasn't good for making "Obamacare" disappear; I've always said that it disappears if it succeeds. It's possible, too, that the conservative information bubble is so obsessed with the law that they'll still be blaming everything up to and including the common cold on Obamacare decades from now. On the other hand, sooner or later there will be another Democratic president, and once that happens Fox News and all are sure to compare the radical socialist leftism of that new president to the reasonable moderation of Obama. Will "Obamacare" survive that? Hard to guess.

I'd really love to know what percentage of people who have new insurance through the exchanges think it's "Obamacare." Whatever that is -- and it's surely lower than 100% -- it's certain to decline over time. And I'm guessing that only a small fraction of those with new expanded Medicaid insurance think of it as Obamacare (or ACA). Hardly anyone with employer-based insurance thinks of it as related in any way to Obamacare, I'd assume; nor do they think it has anything to do with government policy.

Back to the blame thing...the point isn't whether ACA is a success or not; the point is that it's going to be blamed for lots of things, many of which it has nothing to do with, whether it's a success or a failure. That's just the nature of the thing.


  1. Jonathan, have you seen the new study on political views in twins - ?

    I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I thought I'd flag the summary for your audience.

  2. I suspect JB may be off on the obamacare label disappearing.

    On a practical level, the bronze level plans are a lot worse than the private plans before.

    Poor people are being sucked into medicaid, and that part of the label will drop off. What people will remember is the crappy plans they are on now (and paying full price for).

    For example, if my current plan is 150. If I buy it on the exchange, 450. You can see why I am fighting hard to not get on the obamacare plan -- a difference of close to 3600 a year.

    1. The number of people who are in the private, individual market and have plans that are both better and cheaper than the new ones probably won't be very large. The problem, on the other hand, is that they're relatively well-to-do and their opinions are more likely to be heard.

    2. You can see why I am fighting hard to not get on the obamacare plan.....

      What? I don't even know what this means. How do you "fight" not to be on an Obamacare plan? ALL plans are "Obamacare" plans now inasmuch as it is no longer legal to offer the old individual-market plans that capped lifetime payouts, could be canceled at any time and didn't even have to be offered at all to people with even minor "pre-existing conditions." You're fighting for the right to continue under those abusive terms? How, by buying your health insurance through the Mafia?

  3. Re Kevin Drum: Even more specifically I said the same thing in my comment to the Sunday question. Not just the horror stories but any price rise (even if less than it would have otherwise been) or change in benefits (even if compensated by other features such as no denial for pre-existing conditions etc.)
    The GOP is poisoning the discourse rather than pointing out glitches. But I'm totally with JB on what could be the good politics of pointing out glitches and taking credit for fixing them. They've abandoned that possibility. Good government doesn't inspire the hate and fear that leads people (including those who can't actually afford it) to send them money. But I don't know enough about the history of Social Security say to know whether this poisonous obstruction is unprecedented. It seems so in my lifetime. I do know that the Rs made outrageous and false claims about Social Security against FDR after it was passed.


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