Another Obamacare Talking Point Goes Up In Flames

Published October 14, 2014

For a long time we were told that Obamacare would lower health insurance premiums. When that didn’t pan out, we were told it really wasn’t fair to compare the old “substandard” health insurance policies that people had before to the better, Obamacare-compliant policies that people now had, and that once you included all those terrific benefits that people didn’t have before, people were better off even if they were paying a bit more (or a lot more) for health insurance than they had before.

A recent poll suggests why most Americans don’t seem to be buying that spin. The Washington Post has an interesting article on the fact that many people with insurance feel they still can’t afford medical care (“Poll: Many Insured Struggle with Medical Bills“), with a focus on high deductibles as the culprit. It should serve as a cautionary tale to advocates of high-deductibles and health savings accounts, myself included.

But buried towards the bottom of the story is something that should have every elected official who supported Obamacare, as well as their campaign staff, reaching for the Maalox:

In another potentially troublesome finding for the White House, the poll found signs of dissatisfaction among people who changed plans in the last year, as the president’s health overhaul went into full effect.

Plan-switchers who said they are paying more outnumbered those who are paying less by 45 percent to 29 percent. Of those paying more, 11 percent said they are getting higher-quality care for their dollar.

Put another way, nearly everyone who’s been stuck with higher premiums because of Obamacare isn’t buying the line that they’re better off than before. It will be interesting to see if the Obama administration and allies in Congress and elsewhere double down on the party line about higher premiums coming with better benefits, or concede and move on to the next talking point.