All the confusion and mixed messages out there are bound to combust if people decide they were misled — an echo of the “you can keep your plan if you like it” fiasco.Please read below the fold for more on this story.
"If there's been a failing with the Obama administration [communication], it's the failure to adequately plan for that kind of extensive, repeated interaction with people at the community level," said Larry Jacobs, an expert on health politics at the University of Minnesota. Successful outreach doesn't depend on just one jingle, he stressed. "It's repeated and unceasing outreach at multiple levels." […]
Some of the missed points and mixed-up details could bite the administration almost immediately as people start using their new plans and blame surprises on the White House. Other lingering public misconceptions could feed Republican attacks through the November midterm elections.
There are valid points in the story: as March's Kaiser poll showed, about 60 percent of the uninsured weren't aware of the March 31 deadline to enroll. That lack of awareness was a big obstacle for this first enrollment period, but the good news is that there's another enrollment period coming up in November. The door hasn't permanently slammed shut on getting coverage under the law, so the kind of outreach efforts that brought more than seven million to enroll can pick up millions more in the fall. And next year, when the tax bill for not signing up comes due, or some people have a smaller refund than they expected because an income change reduced their subsidy level, there will be added frustration. There's always frustration at tax time. Additionally, Politico worries about how people will be confused by having insurance—all the terms and paperwork and co-payments and everything that has frustrated everyone who has had to deal with an insurance company forever.
What Politico isn't taking into account is that insurance companies are going to want to keep their new customers, because they sure know that a new enrollment period is coming. They'll work to keep those people. But what Politico is really missing is the fact that millions of people who were shut out of insurance now have it, now have the security of knowing that getting really sick or having a terrible accident isn't going to ruin them financially. People who could afford insurance have always put up with a lot of bureaucratic annoyances to have that security, and those who have newly obtained it will appreciate it.
It doesn't take into account the benefit of all the people who've had insurance not having to worry about fighting with their insurer over what's covered and what isn't, not having to worry about their insurer scouring their past health records to find something that will let them refuse to pay for a new illness. Or the fact that healthy people who only go to the doctor for their annual physical and things like flu shots won't have to make a copay. These are big deals.
There are going to be hiccups going forward. That's just the reality of implementing a law this big. And the reality of relying on huge, bureaucratic insurance companies to make it happen. But the benefits are going to outweigh the drawbacks for just about everybody who has insurance now.
Obamacare isn't doomed, however much Politico wants to keep that narrative alive.