Problems are bound to appear in a program this huge, just as problems plagued the early days of Medicare, which is now one of the government's most popular programs.
We already have seen the Obama administration announce a one-year delay in fines for medium and large companies that fail to provide health coverage to workers. And an important debate already is heating up over how well the state-run insurance marketplaces work. Yet a close examination of the 12 states that have proposed or approved insurance rates for comparison reveals a promising pattern.
“Obamacare is not shaping up as the train wreck its critics predicted,” as Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic, put it. “And in those states where officials are most committed to its success, it's not even close.”
In other words, we're seeing sunny reports come out of Democratic-blue states and gloomy reports from the Republican-red states.
In Maryland, for example, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley set up an exchange that offers nine carriers whose rates are among the lowest of the 12 reporting states. New York and California, also with Democratic governors, reported similarly low rates.
However, as featured in Republicans' “Obamacare rate shock” warnings, Ohio said its health insurance rates for individuals will soar 88 percent, and Indiana estimated a 72 percent hike. Yet as Politico and others have reported, both states cooked the books a bit. They were comparing the basic cost of providing coverage, not the cost of premiums, which is much lower.
Neither state bothered to distinguish the ACA's four levels of coverage, either. Those under age 30, for example, will pay a lot less for catastrophic coverage than will those over age 55.
Shoppers will be relieved, I am sure, to learn about that. That's enough to make President Obama smile about Obamacare, while its opponents don't.
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