Health Reform

Why is Obamacare 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.

Healthcare Economist’s 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.


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