posted at 10:41 am on September 9, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Skyrocketing premiums. Astronomical deductibles that keep people from using their benefits. Doctors who refuse to accept the plans. Insurers trying to escape the exchanges. Hey, what’s not to like about ObamaCare, eh? Gallup’s latest survey shows a majority of Americans still oppose the Affordable Care Act … and they should:
In a summer that saw many insurers drop out of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, Americans’ support for the healthcare law continues to be slightly more negative than positive. Now, 44% of Americans support the law, also known as Obamacare, and 51% disapprove of it — similar to what Gallup measured last November. …
Currently, 29% of Americans say Obamacare has hurt them and their family, up from 26% in May, and the highest Gallup has measured to date. Meanwhile, the percentage who say the ACA has helped their family dropped from 22% to 18%. The bulk of Americans, 51%, continue to say the law has “had no effect.” As more provisions of the law have taken effect over the years, the “no effect” percentage has dropped from the first reading of 70%, in early 2012.
Wait until the next round of open enrollment starts in eight weeks. The number of people who feel the ObamaCare pain is likely to rise even further, especially in places like Tennessee, Minnesota, and other states where premiums will go up 40% or more over 2016. Gallup offers an interesting, if one-sided, look at the demos on this question:
Because Republicans are much more likely (46%) than Democrats (9%) to say the new law has hurt their family, it is possible that some of those who say “hurt” are giving a political response rather than an actual report on the law’s effect on their lives.
Hmmm. That’s certainly one explanation. Another might be that Democrats are unwilling to admit that ObamaCare has hurt their families out of political calculation. There’s one way to test this: Have premiums gone up or down, and have deductibles made it more or less likely that people can actually access their coverage rather than pay out of pocket for their care? Those are objective measures that test “hurt,” and the answers to those questions tend to make the case that it’s not Republicans cooking their answers.
Those aren’t the only failures in ObamaCare, of course. Earlier this week, Politico highlighted another little-known provision of the plan that’s also failing — the Multi-State Plan. See if you can catch the irony in this story:
An Obamacare provision designed to inject a protective extra layer of competition into fledgling insurance markets fell into near-oblivion — and its failure has made Obamacare’s mounting challenges even more acute.
Under the unwieldy name of the Multi-State Plan Program, the federal government was supposed to contract with two private health plans, at least one a nonprofit. Each is required to offer coverage in all 50 states by next year. But it’s fallen short, reaching fewer states than anticipated, and offering plans that mirror options people already have. …
Had the program gotten up and running, it would have given every Obamacare customer at least two more choices by 2017, and given each state a bigger dose of the competition that was built into the Affordable Care Act blueprint. Instead, it’s another piece of the ACA that was hastily assembled as a political compromise — and never really got off the ground. Right now, it’s in just 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, and covers only about 440,000 people — around 4 percent of exchange customers.
“The multi-state plan idea could have worked if the markets were functioning really well; it was potentially an opportunity for national carriers to get a leg up on the competition with kind of the ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal of the federal government,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and an expert on the exchanges. “But the way things worked out these marketplaces haven’t been a great business opportunity for the big national insurers.”
Recall, if you will, that one key Republican proposal for reform during the ObamaCare debate was to remove the restrictions on interstate sales of health insurance. ObamaCare advocates insisted that such a move wouldn’t solve the problems of a lack of choice and would instead make big, for-profit insurers even larger. Instead, Democrats went with the “seal of approval” plan to hand-pick two insurers to provide exactly the same kind of competition, only without the “competition” part. And now everyone’s surprised that the Federal Seal Of Approval insurers offered exactly the same kinds of plans as others in the marketplaces, only in fewer of them than HHS needed.
The shock isn’t that ObamaCare remains unpopular. The shock is that it’s not more unpopular.