Has Obamacare Turned the Corner?

As 2013 ends, the Obama administration is trumpeting the claim that 2.1 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare. The media, eager to throw Obama a bone, have generally been willing to take that number as good news. The 2.1 million figure isn’t right, but put that to one side. Let’s take it at face value: here is a partial list of why the administration’s claim, even if true, is anything but a sign of Obamacare’s success:

* Obamanauts have been telling us for years that something like 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance. The sole purpose of Obamacare was to get as many of them covered as possible. (Those of us who already had health insurance were supposed to be able to keep it, unchanged.) So: 2.1 million out of 45? That’s pathetic.

* Obamacare has already forced the cancellation of health insurance that millions of Americans previously had. By any calculation, 2.1 million is far less than the number who have lost insurance because of Obamacare, or will lose it when the one-year extension on the employer mandate runs out. To the extent that those who are now signing up for Obamacare are doing so because they were forced out of plans they already had, more signups is worse, not better.

* Just wait ’til next year: the Obama administration has projected that more than half of all employer-sponsored plans will be cancelled due to Obamacare. Obama put that disaster off for one year for political reasons, but when that tsunami hits, whatever number have signed up for Obamacare will be dwarfed by those who are mad as heck about losing their health insurance or having their premiums increased.

* Presumably more people would have signed up for Obamacare if they had been required by law to do so, which was the original idea. Obama deferred implementation of the individual mandate for a year because the law was such a disaster. So what we are seeing now is the number (pitifully small) who sign up for Obamacare voluntarily. My guess is that the individual mandate never will be enforced, but if it is, the enrollments obviously will increase. So, what does it tell us about a government program that the people who are supposed to benefit from it will only participate if you force them to?

* What are the demographics of the 2.1 million (or whatever) who have enrolled so far? For the ACA to “work,” lots of healthy young people who previously hadn’t thought they needed health insurance have to be forced into the system to subsidize those who are older, sicker and have pre-existing conditions. Obviously, given the tiny overall total, the number of voluntary, healthy sign-ups is minuscule. That means the ACA is actuarially hopeless, and those who are forced into the exchanges in 12 months, either by implementation of the individual mandate, should that happen, or by cancellation of employer-sponsored plans, will be looking at soaring premiums and deductibles.

We could go on, but you get the point. Obamacare remains a disaster, a slow-moving train wreck that will bedevil the administration for months and years to come, until it is finally repealed.

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