The way Obamacare is being debated is infantile.
Instead of a detailed prescription for change, we’re hearing slogans.
Despite claims to the contrary by Republicans and Democrats, The Affordable Care Act is neither an unmitigated disaster nor a glorious triumph.
The truth lies between the two extremes, which is so often the case. The delivery of healthcare is complex and the law was only passed after Democrats responded to widespread demands for fundamental reform of the previous system.
“We have decreased the rate of the uninsured by about a third,” says Megan McArdle, an Obamacare critic and columnist at Bloomberg View. That’s an impressive achievement. More than 12 million people who did not have coverage before the reforms are covered now.
Nevertheless, McCardle told our podcast, “How Do We Fix It?“, Obamacare is “much more expensive and much less comprehensive than its architects and certainly the people who supported this politically…. were expecting.”
UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurance firm, is losing money on the government-run exchange and has warned it may have to pull out if market conditions don’t improve.
“What people are doing is they’re gaming the system.” Some with health emergencies, who have inadequate medical insurance are “signing up for a few months, using a ton of services and then dropping it again,” says McArdle.
While Obamacare has lowered rates for many people with pre-existing conditions and helped millions of young prople under 26 stay on their parents’ plans, costs are rising and too little thought has been given to the efficient delivery of needed treatment.
Demand for healthcare often exceeds supply. Many Americans have unrealistic expectations about the cost of coverage. Rationing, whether by insurance companies or government employees, is inevitable.
American consumers should be more involved in cost decisions. But the inconvenient truth is that whoever wins in November, there is little appetite in either political party to start all over again.
It would help if the messy complexities of healthcare were more openly discussed. We need serious fixes a lot more than catcalls from the political playground.