Since its party line passage and subsequent signing on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been altered more times than anyone can count. After the law was passed so we could “find out what’s in it,” in Nancy Pelosi’s phrase, the law’s requirements have been subject to constant alterations and revisions, much like Ms. Pelosi’s facial features.
Like all legislation, Obamacare’s popularity reflects the effectiveness of its implementation, or lack thereof. According to a recent CNN poll, the bill remains deeply unpopular: 57 percent of Americans oppose it. And for good reason: each new poll has followed the announcement of another ACA debacle. To wit, in late February, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projected that Obamacare will raise premiums for two-thirds of small and medium sized businesses. Not exactly good news for job seekers in a moribund economy.
The constant barrage of bad news has made endorsement of the bill difficult for all but its most partisan defenders. President Obama, one of its few remaining champions and insulated from another election, hypes provisions concerning pre-existing conditions, and the ability of young adults to freeload on their parents’ plans. But these alleged benefits are fictions.
In the case of pre-existing conditions, government insurance programs and many pre-Obamacare plans did not preclude coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. And, Obamacare does not preclude insurers from charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, so the landscape has not radically changed.
As to the freeloading provision, this is nonsensical and shortsighted because it incentivizes perpetual dependency, retards responsibility and invites sticker shock when a “young” person turns 27 and suddenly owes huge monthly premiums. As late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel astutely asked, why would the young and healthy, the linchpin of the entire scheme, sign up for Obamacare when they can remain on their parents’ plan?
And once they’re off their parents’ plan, it will be cheaper to go without insurance and pay the fine (if it’s still law) than signing up for insurance. ABC News noted that the young and healthy could save over $1,000 by not enrolling in a plan. This may explain why less than 25 percent of exchange enrollees are between the ages of 18-35, when the White House was counting on that group comprising almost 40 percent of total enrollment.