You can't keep it even if you like it
First it was massive computer failure. Now it's skyrocketing health insurance costs. What's next for President Obama's Affordable Care Act?
If it wasn't obvious before, it certainly is now — the rollout of Obamcare is proving to be the biggest marketing disaster since the advent of the Edsel and New Coke.
But at least consumers could drive an Edsel or sip New Coke before they decided they didn't like it. Because of the systemic failures surrounding the federal government's website, the number of people signing up for the Affordable Care Act is so low the Obama administration says it won't release any figures until mid-November.
Computer problems, of course, can be fixed, and they will be.
What happens after that remains to be seen. But the future looks grim for millions of Americans who will be forced on to the federal government's health care exchange. That's when they'll find out how much they will pay and what they will get for it.
All of which leads to the second Obamacare problem — the millions of insurance policy cancellation notices being received by individual buyers of health insurance who were repeatedly assured that they could keep their plan if they liked it.
Not only is that not true, no one can credibly argue it is, even though some have tried.
That is no small matter because the idea that people could keep their insurance if they wished was not just some idle boast President Obama repeatedly made. It was a central premise behind the Affordable Care Act.
It's hard to believe that members of Congress now being buffeted by complaints from outraged constituents would have voted for Obamacare if the public had been aware of the subterfuge employed by the Obama administration and its legislative supporters.
And subterfuge is exactly what it was, a specific tactic used to achieve the goal of passing this legislation.
Misrepresentation comes easily to many members of the political class, mostly because they figure by the time people figure out what's up it will be too late for them to do much about it.
In this case, however, Affordable Care Act supporters may have misjudged the extent to which insurance cancellations and the high costs of Obama-approved insurance plans would anger and frighten ordinary Americans.
The problem is the government-knows-best mindset that mandates the kind of insurance people will buy rather than allowing consumers to shop for what suits them best. The Obamacare legislation sets minimum requirements for insurance coverage, and that's why companies are compelled by law to cancel policies that don't meet all the president's standards.
The White House's position is crystal clear — many individuals, thinking only of their individual needs, are not up to the task of buying good insurance. That's why experts established the minimum standards they insist are in both the individual's and the country's best interests. Those requirements include prescription, mental health and maternity coverage for everyone.
But it's now clear that White House strategists also knew that if they acknowledged the consequences of their mandate it would jeopardize political support for the Affordable Care Act. Hence, the false narrative that people could keep what they have if they like it.
Presidential spokesman Jay Carney reluctantly confirmed the falsity of the administration narrative when he said that "it's true there are existing health care plans on the individual market that do not meet these minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act."
NBC News has reported that the "Obama administration has known for at least three years" that as many as 14 million people would receive cancellations of the policies President Obama said they could keep.
To most people, those are big numbers. But increasingly defiant supporters of the Affordable Care Act are minimizing its significance.
"What we're talking about here is the 5 percent in the country who currently purchase insurance on the individual market," Carney said.
Further, New Jersey's Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone said at a congressional hearing that many of those 5 percent are buying health insurance that is "lousy" because its coverage is "skeletal."
Affordable Care Act supporters insist the better coverage is the broader coverage and that people must buy it. Broader usually is better. But it's also more expensive, and millions of people will find that buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act isn't affordable for them.
That they were told otherwise, of course, will only deepen their anger. But since President Obama and his adherents insist the Affordable Care Act is "settled law," people had better get used to it or start looking for candidates who will "un-settle" it.