March 14, 2014

70 percent is an A grade with Obamacare

Per latest enrollment rates, Obamacare will sign up about 5 million previously uninsured people by the end of this month and the sign-up deadline.

Nice, no? Well, yes, but nowhere near the originally-announced goal of 7 million, with 5 million being just over 70 percent of that.

That said, maybe we should put "Obamacare" in scare quotes, per my previous blogging and this Dallas Morning News editorial. (Warning: Contains vaguely conservative food-like substances.) The nut grafs:
What’s clear is that this dizzying series of delays and changes has wrought confusion, with its most harrowing deadline dead ahead. On March 31, the tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance — the individual mandate — kicks in. Yet insurance companies and potential new customers are befuddled by rapid shifts in what the law now demands.

The relentless push-back of other deadlines to points conveniently beyond one election or another leads to justified suspicion that politics have long since overridden policy. As it has from the start, Obamacare polls as an albatross to Democrats.
The Snooze hits all the buttons I have for six months. What people are enrolling in now is nothing like the Affordable Care Act of 2009. And, we don't know that it ever will be.

The parts that are being delayed for political reasons, or occasionally, incompetence reasons, were designed to work in tandem with the parts that remain.

We have no idea how much cost savings, if any, the jury-rigged bits and pieces will produce. We have no idea how much they'll improve coverage of the underinsured as well as uninsured. And, I don't have any idea if we'll ever know differently.

A sample of the delays:
July 2, 2013: One-year delay, until 2015, for requirement that employers with at least 50 workers offer insurance to their full-time workers.
Nov. 14: States given latitude to let people renew for one more year insurance policies that would otherwise be canceled as of Jan. 1 because they do not meet minimum benefit requirements.
Dec. 19: Policy change that allows consumers who have received insurance cancellation notices, because their plans don’t mean minimum requirements, two options for 2014: Buy catastrophic insurance or avoid the individual mandate.
Feb. 10, 2014: Second delay, until 2016, for the requirement that large employers must offer insurance.
March 5: Second extension to give states latitude for two more years to let people renew insurance policies that fail to meet the law’s benefits standards.
The pushback will continue on allowing old insurance plans to stay in place, above all. That, in turn, lets insurers more easily meet the 80 percent of money for coverage goals, I'll bet, though they'll never publicly admit that. Even for the big insurance industry, the changing playing field is not totally fun, though.

Democrats who run on delivering government services, it's being said more and more in recent years, most deliver good services. That's doubly true for neoliberal Dems who pride themselves on being technocratic types. Hence, Obamacare continues to be more failure than success for its namesake, and for real health care and health care coverage reform for all of us.

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