October 31, 2013
MEGAN MCARDLE: What Everyone Knew About ObamaCare And Wouldn’t Say.
It’s absolutely true that every policy wonk who was writing or speaking about the law in 2009 and 2010 understood that it would mean premiums going up for at least some people, many of whom would lose insurance that they would have preferred to keep. Who it would be depended a bit on how the law unfolded, of course, but at a minimum, young, healthy people who made more than $46,000 a year could expect to pay higher premiums for the same level of coverage. They had to; mathematically, it was not possible for coverage to expand and everyone’s premiums to go down — not unless you spent more in premium subsidies than the government could afford.
But I think it’s also clearly true that the majority of the public did not understand this. In 2008, the Barack Obama campaign told them that their premiums would go down under the new health-care law. And the law’s supporters believed it. . . .
The administration reiterated that, in Obama’s words, “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.” They also promised that the average family would save $2,500 a year on premiums. There was no fine print about how some folks would lose their insurance, be forced into narrower doctor networks, and see premiums rise, even though they seem to have known what was going to happen.
And the wonk community did not exactly hasten to disabuse them. The risks of higher premiums for some were acknowledged in an aside, but they were not headlined. Unless you were reading volumes of writing about health care very carefully indeed, it wasn’t hard to miss that little detail — at least one former Democratic staffer whose boss voted for the law seems to have been unaware that this was a possibility until her rates increased.
For that matter, I still see regular commenters on the liberal wonk blogs that I read repeating the canards about cost savings from uncompensated care, preventive medicine and so forth.
It was a necessary lie, and the useful idiots are still parroting it.