Feature

Obamacare: An unhappy third birthday

Just 37 percent of voters approve of the Affordable Care Act today, down from 46 percent when the law passed.

Obamacare is one unpopular toddler, said John Fund in NationalReview.com. It’s been three years since President Obama completed his takeover of America’s health-care system, but few people are celebrating the anniversary. Just 37 percent of voters approve of the Affordable Care Act today, down from 46 percent when the law passed. And by a margin of two to one, Americans believe health-care costs will rise in coming years and the quality of health care will plummet. “Opinions will only sour more as the law takes full force starting in January,” said Betsy McCaughey in the New York Post. Insurers expect that 20- and 30-somethings will see premiums double, as Obamacare forces the healthy to subsidize coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. New taxes on insurance firms will also drive up prices, to the point where premiums for a family of five will start at $20,000. When those costs kick in, millions more Americans will join the Republican fight to repeal Obamacare.

Actually, it’s already clear that the law’s benefits outweigh its costs, said The New York Times in an editorial. Requiring insurers to offer coverage to dependent children up to age 26 has allowed 3 million previously uncovered young adults to get insurance. And since insurers are barred from unfairly hiking prices, the average premium increase in 2012 was 30 percent lower than in 2010. Yet few people know of these positives because of Democrats’ utter failure to “sell this landmark law,” said Jill Lawrence in National Journal. Liberal lawmakers, still reeling from the backlash against Obamacare in the 2010 midterms, are lying low. There are aspects of this law that people would like if they knew about them, such as the tax break it offers to small businesses that provide health insurance. But unless the Democrats finally “uncurb their enthusiasm” and start talking, the Republicans’ skewed vision of this law will prevail. 

It’s really too early for anyone to pass judgment on Obamacare, said Steve Chapman in ChicagoTribune.com. No one can predict what will happen when the law is fully implemented next year. “Maybe it will shortchange patients and lead to rationing. Or maybe it will improve access to care at a reasonable price.” If it goes as badly as the GOP expects, Republicans will reap the political rewards. If it succeeds, we’ll all benefit from a better functioning health-care system. “The only way to find out is to let it take effect.”

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