ObamaCare's numbers bad for Dems
President Barack Obama announced triumphantly that 8 million people selected a private insurance plan through the health care exchanges created by legislation known as ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act. He added his own interpretation of the numbers: “This thing is working.”
At the same time, however, Democrat candidates across the country still see the health care law as a drag on their campaigns in the midterm elections. After four years of trying, there is still no evidence that the president's signature piece of legislation has become popular.
If the law were really working and voters were excited about it, Democrat candidates would be talking about it all the time rather than trying to change the subject.
There's a simple rule to evaluate contradictions like this. When the numbers and the behavior disagree, there's something wrong with the numbers.
At one level, of course, it's possible to challenge the 8 million figure itself. As anybody following the story has heard, the number includes a decent number of people who haven't paid their premiums and aren't covered. It also includes a number of people who signed up through the exchange only because the health care law took away their previous insurance.
Still, no matter what the final numbers show, at least a few million more people have health insurance now than they did a year ago. The president's triumphal tone suggests that this is good news and reason to celebrate the success of his health care law.
He says that candidates from his party should be proud of the law and defend it. But that's not likely to happen, and the reasons are deeper than disputes about how many people actually signed up through a health care exchange.
The first is that many people are finding out that the insurance they bought through an exchange doesn't really ensure they'll get medical care. There have been repeated stories of people finding out that even though they have insurance, they can't find a doctor who will accept it. The Wall Street Journal, for example, reports that residents of New Hampshire's capital city “have to drive to other cities to get covered hospital care.” Buying a product that doesn't work is a sure way to create an angry customer.
Additionally, the health care law has created even more angry customers who have found out that they have to change doctors. For some, that's just a minor inconvenience. For others, it's a huge problem.
And, of course, the law is making health insurance more expensive. The head of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, and other industry executives have said they expect to see significant price hikes from the law. That impacts tens of millions of Americans — including many who were happy with their insurance before Obama's law was passed.
What all of this means is that the president's claim of 8 million enrollees is not something to be dismissed or ignored. But the claim is incomplete and a bit like saying a baseball score is eight. Eight runs in a major league game is a good thing, but you can't really evaluate it unless you know how many runs the other team scored.
And for the president's health care law, the negatives are still piling up a lot faster than the positives.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and former president of Rasmussen Reports.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Stupid Steelers
- Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Pitt sophomore Coles leaves football team
- 2 dead in New Kensington shooting; woman says male victim her son
- Braves’ error, Sanchez’s sacrifice fly in 9th help Pirates snap long skid
- Man admits preying on Lower Burrell neighbor, taking more than $100K in money, goods
- GOP: Wolf ‘Fresh Start’ campaign violates Pennsylvania law
- UPMC earnings turn positive, but pressures mount
- $4M floor project at Pittsburgh International Airport to replace drab gray, clickety-clack tile
- Commitment by Steelers’ Gilbert pays off