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Even With Its Faults, Obamacare Has Helped Millions

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Even With Its Faults, Obamacare Has Helped Millions

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Obamacare has helped millions

To listen to critics of Obamacare, the health insurance law has been just the disaster they predicted. It’s now in a death spiral, they claim, and cannot be depended on to provide medical access to its customers.

Even news reports have tended to the apocalyptic: Premiums are going up by 25 percent or more! Insurers are dropping out! Relying on those accounts, Donald Trump has added an addled negative critique of Obamacare to his regular stump speeches.

But, as usual, the critics of the Affordable Care Act are mostly wrong — exaggerating its deficiencies, misunderstanding its complexities and dismissing its many benefits. They don’t want to admit that free markets cannot cure all that ails the American health care system. (They also don’t want to admit that President Barack Obama might have done something right.)

As just one example, those admittedly steep price increases won’t drastically affect most Obamacare customers because the federal government provides subsidies to pay the premiums. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 73 percent of those who see a premium increase of 25 percent would still be able to buy coverage for $75 a month or less. That’s a pretty good deal.

To be fair, Obamacare is far from perfect. It is a patch on a costly, complex and inefficient system that needs a complete overhaul. Still, its implementation has provided access to medical care for many, and that’s a big deal. Before Obamacare, about 16 percent of Americans had no health insurance of any kind. Now, that’s down to less than 9 percent — a record low.

The number of uninsured would be even lower if not for the 19 states, mostly with Republican governors and legislators, that have refused to expand Medicaid. It’s a crazy kind of resistance since the Affordable Care Act promises that the federal government would cover at least 90 percent of the cost of expansion. But in their warped thinking, any effort to cooperate with Obamacare would sell out the conservative worldview.

Indeed, far-right pols and activists have devoted themselves to the destruction of the Affordable Care Act since its passage. They have taken their disagreements to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have passed votes to repeal it through the House 60 times. They have denounced the law in every forum they can find, holding it up as the cause of virtually every ill in the known universe. (That’s except for climate change, which they say is a hoax.)

With those hysterical indictments of the law, it’s no wonder most Americans don’t like it much. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare — and most believe that it hasn’t affected them. They don’t understand the many benefits that apply even to those who already had employer-based health insurance.

Let’s review. Before Obamacare, patients were routinely turned down for health insurance because they were already sick. Now, pre-existing conditions don’t matter. Before Obamacare, an adult son or daughter without a job could be terminated from his or her parents’ policy at age 18. Now, insurers are required to cover those young adults through age 26.

Before Obamacare, insurers placed lifetime caps on the amount of money they’d pay for illness — meaning that a chronically sick person might exhaust his coverage during his lifetime. Obamacare prohibits those caps. Those changes have benefited tens of millions of health care consumers.

Obamacare’s limitations are largely due to the fact that it depends on the private health insurance market. (It was never a socialist takeover of medical care.) Insurance companies are in business to make money, and that imperative works against the needs of the health care consumer. You want lower prices? Don’t use your insurance. You want efficiency? Use the cheapest drug, even if it doesn’t cure your ailment.

The only way to fix Obamacare is to start over with a single-payer system — Medicare for all, perhaps with a small premium for those under the age of 65. That would eliminate the profit motive and its price-gouging.

But that’s unlikely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future because the health care-industrial complex spends hundreds of millions every year to lobby Congress and get its way. For now, Obamacare is the best thing we’ve got.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com

IMAGE: A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar  

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Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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44 Comments

  1. Mama Bear November 4, 2016

    I have wondered all along why the Republicans in office could not care enough about the American people to work with Obama and the Dems to fix and perfect the ACA instead of spending time and money trying to repeal it. Am I fantasizing or was there a time in this country that the parties compromised and worked on our behalf?

    Reply
    1. Leftout November 5, 2016

      I work in the system and The People that have never had insurance are happy ,of course , because they get a free bee subsidized by those who are working . This group has high deductibles and low grade choices which many better providers do not accept . These people have to go to lower quality facilities, a la NYC city hospitals and the like .
      We have wasted 10 trillion un accountable dollars over the past 10 years , this money represents approx 60k per couple in the US , that can easily pay for a universal free choice voucher system and no insurance companies involved . Where is the accountability for the ten trillion , anyone??!!

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila November 5, 2016

        Where did that $10T figure come from? Most importantly, if those expenditures began 10 years ago, long before the ACA was signed, what does it have to do with the ACA and rising premiums.
        I suspect you are referring to increases in the national debt, which are caused by issues that have nothing to do with the ACA, ranging from paying for unfunded crusades, supporting programs without enough government revenues, demographic changes that are bringing programs such as Social Security, to the breaking point. I do agree that other options, including socialized healthcare at a national level, would have been more effective, especially if the for profit insurance companies had been kept out of the equation, but when we consider everything, including the politics that influenced some of the changes made to make the ACA more palatable to conservatives, the ACA has done more good than could be expected considering the circumstances.

        Reply
        1. Leftout November 5, 2016

          Yes my concern is for the 10 trillion deficit , where is the accountability on this. If insurance companies profits were removed and an equivalent voucher used by all of us administered by Medicare would be a good fix . To go totally socialized , results in long deathly waiting lines none us would enjoy.

          Reply
          1. charleo1 November 5, 2016

            A couple of things. First the vast majority of those qualifying for premium subsidies are full time workers who’s employers have been depending on the taxpayers for years to pay for their employees healthcare needs. Now that they are required to pitch in just a little, they are whining like little cry babies over wanting their free ride back. And secondly, you are absolutely right. In that we need to completely get the useless, and parasitic insurance companies, along with their pricing gouging co-conspirators at big pharma out of our healthcare system altogether. The case being we underwrite billions in research for new cures, so the pharmaceutical companies can turn around and charge $600 dollars for a $5 dollar epi-pen.

            Reply
          2. Leftout November 5, 2016

            Agreed Charlio1 , some of the regulatory testing and packaging is dictated by laws of congress and overly zealous safety people leading to upped prices.
            Insurance can be made a simple process , too many corrupt hands in the pot. The ACA even had a provision to maintain the profit margin for losses for the insurance companies. Whacky !

            Reply
          3. Dominick Vila November 5, 2016

            As I am sure you already know, the insurance companies are not the only ones contributing to escalating healthcare costs. The pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of medical equipment, and to a lesser extend care providers, all had their fingers in this profitable pie. I think it is also important to remember that rising healthcare costs are not a new phenomena. Our healthcare system has been the most expensive one in the world for decades. That’s the reason our politicians have been trying to come up with alternatives to fix it…with little success. The ACA is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to get this situation under control.

            Reply
          4. Leftout November 5, 2016

            Yes it is expensive and that is why people come here for diagnostics and repair. Venezuelan Chavez went to Cuba and lasted not. With all of its internal frauds it is still a great system and everyone does benefit . Insurance companies and others find a hand in premiums. Even I say a one payer voucher system to use as you please Will provide the best and competitive model. Socialized systems result in cheap care to those who can should deserve better . NYC tries but it serves only the underprivileged due to socialized nature or system .

            Reply
          5. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            yes why didn’t the ACA force businesses to go bankrupt also I have just been struck in the head by a blunt object

            Reply
          6. Leftout November 5, 2016

            The ACA was to relieve businesses of keeping an HR unit of benefits and force businesses to throw people to a lowere form of insurance and lower quality subsidized by the worker again . The man in the middle picks up the costs . People In Canada have private insurance and come south to US and not Cuba for medical treatment .

            Reply
          7. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            1st sentence: not actually true.
            2nd sentence: not actually true.
            3rd sentence: not actually true.

            Reply
          8. Leftout November 5, 2016

            The truth makes one blind as ILight hurting your eyes after prolonged living in the darkness, unless you are a rodent.

            Reply
          9. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            OK sorry you don’t understand things.

            Reply
          10. Leftout November 5, 2016

            Sorry but you are not very helpful on these topics .i am willing to help you bring out your inner self .

            Reply
          11. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            See previous post.

            Reply
          12. Leftout November 5, 2016

            My offer stands. And supercedea all of your upcoming comments . We can meet at the Lenox Hill grill feee consult .

            Reply
          13. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

            See previous two posts.

            Reply
        2. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

          Well put, Mr. Vila. And let’s not forget George “Dubya” Bush’s 2003 Medicare Drug Bill, which was a trillion dollar giveaway to Big Pharma and which created the “Donut Hole” – adding to the burden of just about every American who has to buy drugs to maintain good health.

          We can usually count on the Republicans to go out of their way to make life miserable for the average American.

          Reply
  2. darlene.bernier November 4, 2016

    After 5 yrs I decided to quit my office work and I never felt so good in my life… I started to work over internet, for this company I found online, for a few hours /a day, and I make much more than i did on my previous work… Check i got for last month was for 9 thousand dollars… Superb thing about this work is the more free time i got with my family… http://korta.nu/MDe

    Reply
  3. itsfun November 5, 2016

    Up to 116% increase in rates is something the American people cannot afford. Not to mention the now huge deductibles. This whole system was designed for one thing and one thing only and that is to put the government in complete charge of our health care. With the past comments of Obama and his staff, don’t plan on getting cured of anything if you live to 75. You will just get pain pills or drugs to ease your pain before you die.

    Reply
    1. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

      Itsfun! Itsfun! Itsfun to be oblivious!

      Reply
      1. itsfun November 5, 2016

        All you have to do is read the Comments Obama made about his own grandmother.

        Reply
        1. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

          Do tell….

          Reply
        2. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

          Why do you lie so much?

          Reply
    2. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

      Odd that in the timeframe from 2000 thru 2008 (before ACA), my healthcare premiums increased by about 30% per year, and then jumped 100% in 2007.
      Oh yeah, I remember now. Those increases were the driving force behind the six healthcare laws that were introduced in Congress!!

      Reply
      1. itsfun November 5, 2016

        If you like huge increases and high deductibles its okay with me. Have you seen how many insurance companies are opting out of obamacare. Have you seen how many doctors are not accepting the obamacare rates and are not seeing patients with obamacare?

        Reply
        1. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

          Right after ACA was signed into law, the increases dropped from 30% per year to about 10%, and my first policy under ACA dropped my cost by over 25%, and I get no subsidy.
          Are some increases high? Sure. It’s a for-profit industry, and those CEOs all need new yachts this year.
          Doctors are free-market operators. Some don’t see Medicare patients, some don’t see ACA patients and never have.)
          How many states had one insurance provider before ACA? (five) How many states have one insurance provider now? (two)

          Reply
          1. itsfun November 5, 2016

            I am one of the first to say we need health care for all. I don’t believe Obamacare is a answer though. Forcing a company to insure some with a current disease is like making a car insurance company pay for a auto body repair after the person buys insurance. I believe the poor folks that are stricken with a terrible disease like MS, MD, Parkinsons, etc. always should have been given the very best health care available in the U.S. no matter what the cost. I believe that we taxpayers would gladly help those folks. I feel that way about disabled veterans also. Big corporations like GM, Ford, etc, get rates from companies like Blue Cross for their employees. What would be wrong with having similar type rates for employees of small companies. The companies could form a pool of people and be given rates comparable to the big industries. There could be different kinds of policy options also for these types of pools. Why can’t insurance companies compete over state lines. I wonder who gets rich by not allowing this to happen. I believe there are a number of solutions for providing health care, but Obamacare is proving to be a failure.

            Reply
          2. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            It’s the only attempt that’s been made in the last 100 years.
            In case you missed it, coverage for “pre-existing conditions” is not new. In Florida, if you have full coverage, your car insurance is required to pay for a replacement windshield even if the damage was there when you signed up for the insurance.
            “No matter what the cost” doesn’t prevent the medical bankruptcies that currently make up 65% of all those filed.
            Big companies have many employees, which distributes the risk for the insurer. Small companies cannot group together to form similarly large pools (state laws.) Thus, the exchanges set up under the ACA were a federal attempt to form groups of insured to spread the risk across more people, like what happens in large companies.
            Insurance companies can compete over state lines, but the same state restrictions on how they treat their customers apply.
            ACA is the same failure as Medicare and the VA are. They all hit speed bumps when first started and were adjusted over a decade or so. If the GOP weren’t so slimy, they’d be suggesting improvements instead of voting 55+ times to throw 12 million people off their plans. To date, their “improvements” (via the 168 amendments they put into the original law) included the rollout dates and little nuggets like the 10% tanning bed tax – poison pills meant to ensure it would never be enacted.

            Reply
          3. itsfun November 5, 2016

            Obama changed the rollout dates. Would you say the 10% tanning tax is racist. How many black or Latin people are affected by it? I said small companies should be able to pool together to get the good rates. The ACA is designed to fail. It was passed with lies and we continue to be lied to about it.

            Reply
          4. johninPCFL November 5, 2016

            The tanning tax was added as a Senate amendment by the GOP, so it could be a racist poke by the party of the KKK.
            Pooling by small companies is regulated (denied) by state laws, so only a federal law can overrule them.
            The ACA was passed by the Senate with 168 GOP amendments, and then passed by the House with no amendments. There were multiple House bills, and another Senate bill, were all being considered by Congress at the time the ACA went through at the end of the session.

            Reply
          5. itsfun November 6, 2016

            Not even one Republican voted to pass the healthcare tax. Not one. The Democrats completely own the healthcare tax and its failures.

            Reply
          6. I Am Helpy November 6, 2016

            Good news! It hasn’t been a failure – in fact it’s been highly successful. I’d explain, but you’re the guy who refused to believe that the FBI was part of the DOJ, and still hasn’t admitted they were mistaken.

            Reply
          7. johninPCFL November 6, 2016

            AFTER they’d attached 168 amendments to it.
            Seems like they had SOME interest in it, right up until it came time for them to actually DO something.
            Ah, well. It’s working, and they still don’t get it. What a bunch of dumbshits!

            Reply
          8. itsfun November 7, 2016

            Its not working, rates and deductibles are high high high. Companies are dropping out of it. Enrollment is down especially for young folks. Spin it anyway you want, but the Republicans did not have even one vote for it. The Democrats would not have passed it if it wasn’t for bribes by Obama to certain Senators.

            Reply
          9. johninPCFL November 7, 2016

            Yet another post from MoreRedStateBullshit.
            It’s working great for the 12 million newly enrolled. And just like every other year that the insurance industry has controlled things, some policies were cancelled and some got more expensive. Luckily, the costs still have not gotten back to where they were for me in 2009.

            Reply
          10. itsfun November 7, 2016

            you must not be in the state that has a 116% increase. Have you deductibles gone up. It is a failure, even Bill Clinton said it is a crazy thing.

            Reply
          11. johninPCFL November 7, 2016

            Listen to the entire quote, not just the four words on MoreRedStateBullshit. What he says is that the insurance companies getting to raise rates by enormous amounts that put insurance out of reach of middle class folks is “just the craziest thing”.
            My deductible before ACA was $10k/year. It is now $5650/year. The 116% increase is for some policies, not all. If you have platinum coverage, it probably goes up significantly more than if you have silver coverage. Another fact ignored by MoreRedStateBullshit.

            Reply
          12. Sand_Cat November 6, 2016

            Yes, we all believe you, and all the other lying sacks of offal who say the same thing,, but never made even a fake attempt to get healthcare for all. And when someone finally produced one that mimicked the Heritage Foundation’s plan, you’ve all done EVERYTHING possible to sabotage it.
            Yes, you clearly want the GOP plan for healthcare for the poor: don’t get sick, and if you do, die quickly.

            Reply
        2. Sand_Cat November 6, 2016

          You love them, because you have obviously opposed the idea that poor people should have medical care, too. The obvious enthusiasm of you and the rest of the merciless scum for every real or fabricated problem with the program is a dead giveaway.
          But of course, the GOP has produced lots and lots of workable alternatives like repeal and Trump’s “something great.”
          You may claim you don’t like Trump, but it’s obvious your ideas fit him to the T.

          Reply
    3. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

      Hi, itsfun! I know you and facts are distant strangers, but Obamacare premiums were much, much lower than initial projections. Right now, they’re catching up to what was expected. It remains an effective policy that has led to more Americans having health insurance than ever before.

      I hope that helps! Sorry you’re mad that you’re team of slapstick fascists is losing so bad!

      Reply
  4. secondclassguy November 5, 2016

    I never had health ins until obamacare, now Trump says the first thing he’ll do is get rid of it, yeah right i’ll vote for him

    Reply
    1. black.glenda November 6, 2016

      It’s been 1 yr since I left my office work and I never felt better in my life… I started working online, for this company I stumbled upon online, several hours /a day, and I make much more than i did on my last job… Paycheck i got for last month was for 9000 dollars… Amazing thing about this work is that i have more free time to spend with my family… http://korta.nu/MDe

      Reply
  5. dana.parks November 13, 2016

    1 yr ago I decided to abandon my office job and it was a best decision i made in my life… I started working at home, for a company I discovered online, few hours /a day, and I earn much more than i did on my old work… My last month paycheck was for 9000 bucks… Superb thing about it is that now i have more time to spend with my family… http://korta.nu/MDe

    Reply

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