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Monday, November 23, 2015

Paul Krugman: Health Reform Lives!

The recent "bad, or at least not-great news about health reform" is won't derail Obamacare:

Health Reform Lives!, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: To the right’s dismay, scare tactics — remember death panels? — and spurious legal challenges failed to protect the nation from the scourge of guaranteed health coverage. Still, Obamacare’s opponents insisted that it would implode in a “death spiral” of low enrollment and rising costs.
But the law’s first two years ... went remarkably well. The number of uninsured Americans dropped sharply,... while costs came in well below expectations. ...
I mention all of this to give you some perspective on recent developments that mark a break in the string of positive surprises. Yes, Obamacare has hit a few rough patches lately. But they’re much less significant than a lot of the reporting, let alone the right-wing reaction, would have you believe. Health reform is still a huge success story. ...
First, premiums are going up for next year, because insurers are finding that their risk pool is somewhat sicker and hence more expensive than they expected. There’s a lot of variation across states, but the average increase will be around 11 percent. That’s a slight disappointment, but it’s not shocking, given both the good news of the previous two years and the long-term tendency of insurance premiums to rise 5-10 percent a year.
Second, some Americans who bought low-cost insurance plans have been unpleasantly surprised by high deductibles. This is a real issue, but it shouldn’t be exaggerated. All allowed plans cover preventive services without a deductible, and many plans cover other health services as well. Furthermore, additional financial aid is available to lower-income families... Some people may not know about these mitigating factors ... but awareness should improve over time. ...
Oh, and official projections now say that fewer people will enroll in those exchanges than previously predicted. But the main reason is that surprisingly few employers are dropping coverage; overall projections for the number of uninsured Americans still look pretty good.
So where does that leave us? Without question, the run of unexpectedly good news for Obamacare has come to an end, as all such runs must. ... There were bound to be some bobbles along the way.
But are we looking at the beginnings of a death spiral? Some people are indeed saying that, but as far as I can tell, they’re all people who have been predicting disaster every step of the way...
The reality is that Obamacare is an imperfect system, but it’s workable — and it’s working.

    Posted by on Monday, November 23, 2015 at 12:51 AM in Economics, Health Care | Permalink  Comments (161)


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