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Monday, May 27, 2013

Paul Krugman: The Obamacare Shock

What does the new evidence on Obamacare tell us?:

The Obamacare Shock, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Obamacare goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage.
No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and ... we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform. Yet important new evidence — especially from California... — suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success. ...
In ... California..., insurers have submitted the prices at which they are willing to offer coverage on the state’s newly created Obamacare exchange. And the prices ... are surprisingly low..., it looks as if Obamacare’s first year in California is going to be an overwhelmingly positive experience.
What can still go wrong? Well, Obamacare is a complicated program, basically because simpler options, like Medicare for all, weren’t considered politically feasible. So there will probably be ... administrative confusion as the law goes into effect, again especially in states where Republicans have been doing their best to sabotage the process.
Also, some people are too poor to afford coverage even with the subsidies. These Americans were supposed to be covered by a federally financed expansion of Medicaid, but in states where Republicans have blocked Medicaid expansion, such unfortunates will be left out in the cold.
Still, here’s what it seems is about to happen: millions of Americans will suddenly gain health coverage, and millions more will feel much more secure knowing that such coverage is available if they lose their jobs or suffer other misfortunes. Only a relative handful of people will be hurt at all. And as contrasts emerge between the experience of states like California that are making the most of the new policy and that of states like Texas whose politicians are doing their best to undermine it, the sheer meanspiritedness of the Obamacare opponents will become ever more obvious.
So yes, it does look as if there’s an Obamacare shock coming: the shock of learning that a public program designed to help a lot of people can, strange to say, end up helping a lot of people — especially when government officials actually try to make it work.

    Posted by on Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:24 AM in Economics, Health Care | Permalink  Comments (101)

          


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