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Unhealthy Skepticism

Paul Krugman points out that Republicans made at least six dire predictions of how Obama’s health care reform was going to fail miserably:

  1. They claimed that not enough people would enroll, which would cause an “epic fail“. In fact, they went as far as to tell people to not enroll in health insurance, which shows that they care more about fighting Obama than the health of US citizens.
  2. Next they claimed that even if people enrolled, they wouldn’t pay their premiums. They even held a Congressional hearing on it, which was a disaster for them when their carefully rigged insurance company witnesses openly disagreed with their criticisms, causing many of the Republicans to slink away from the hearing before it was over.
  3. They even claimed that the number of people who lost coverage because their current insurance was cancelled would be greater than new enrollments. Remember all those stories they ran about people whose insurance was cancelled, every one of which was debunked?
  4. They predicted that the cost of insurance would go up even faster than before Obamacare, causing widespread rate shock. They predicted rates in California would go up by 65-146%.
  5. They claimed that young, healthy people would not sign up (leaving too many old and sick people), causing a death spiral from insurance companies having to pay out too many claims. They even published articles telling people What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels because of this.
  6. They predicted that the cost of health care would rise dramatically. Indeed, they claimed that the GDP would have gone negative and only increased because of “soaring expenditure on health care” caused by “the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion”.

Well, the Republicans are zero for six on this one. Every one of their dire predictions failed. Indeed, the cost of health care is lower than even proponents of Obamacare predicted; the first quarter of this year it even went down for the first time in decades. The demographics are good.

But of course, none of the people who blithely predicted the collapse of Obamacare will even consider admitting that they were wrong.



  1. westomoon wrote:

    IK, thanks for this one! A footnote to claim #4 — no one discusses Obamacare’s effect on the rates of people whose insurance coverage continued unchanged thru the ACA’a implementation. My premiums actually went down for the first time ever in the first, very partial year of ACA effect, and have stayed down ever since.

    After my first superstitious terror passed — for the previous 25 years, it was a good year if my premiums went up by a single-digit percentage — I realized it was the miraculous effect of the 15% cap on non-claims expenditures.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    I think it is too early to call it success or failure, you have to give law time and see how it works out.

    The only thing that is sure happened that we lost our freedom. The Pro-Choice people are all up in arms when getting abortion is made difficult, but apparently same people are anti-choice when it comes people don’t want buying insurance. They want to punish those people and make it difficult them to make choice they don’t like.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, I think you are completely missing the point.

    The point of this post was that many conservatives vocally predicted very specific ways in which Obamacare would fail. And every single one of those predictions was wrong. You say “it is too early to call it success or failure” and yet that is exactly what Republicans were doing — declaring it a failure.

    It also pisses me off when people say things like “the only thing that is sure [is that] we lost our freedom”. Pretty much every law takes away someone’s freedom. You do not have the freedom to murder anyone you want. You don’t have the freedom to say anything you want, because slander and libel are illegal.

    Before Obamacare, people without insurance could go to the emergency room and I and other tax payers had to pay for it. Now, you are not required to sign up for health insurance, but if you don’t you pay extra taxes to the IRS, which will help cover the cost of all those uninsured people who go to the emergency room. Seems pretty fair to me.

    And now that more people have health insurance, people are less likely to be sick (because they can go to the doctor when they need to), so they are less likely to pass their illness on to me. Are you saying that people should have the right to pass illnesses on to other people?

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  4. Dan wrote:

    I suppose the seatbelt law is also taking away the freedom to be more injured on the road.

    Actually, we were already paying hospitals for uninsured people, because the hospitals lacked the freedom to turn away uninsured patients, who turned up despite ‘choosing’ not to get insurance.

    So it’s not clear anything worth-while was lost. Comparison with decisions of a woman over her body is rather disingenuous.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    Right on Dan. If you want real health care freedom, then you must turn away people from doctor and hospital care who can’t pay. Big accident, check insurance, no insurance ambulance won’t pick them up. Leave them there for the relatives to pick them up.
    Otherwise we who have health care pick up the bill in our premiums.
    BELIEVE MY HASSAN, those without insurance don’t pay if they get care. I’m an ex hospital nurse.
    The ignorant like my neighbor “oh, the hospital will pick up the cost.”
    Or this, freedom would be getting in your car not only without the seat belt but without insurance. Another car tee bones you, you are stuck with the bill or no more car. That is real freedom.
    Freedom is a lightening strike on your house where it burns to the ground without insurance. Do you have enough to replace your house, cash out of hand while still paying your mortgage or would you be out on the street and still owe on your mortgage?

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  6. Hassan wrote:

    At least I do not have to pay already bailed out, for profit, middle man that does nothing, (aka insurance company) to wear seatbelt.

    We are still paying for people (illegal immigrants) who do not have insurance. So basically people who chose to obey law are still being asked to pay more for people who do not follow law.

    I think as having insurance is mandated now, law should be changed for hospitals to refuse service to people who dont have insurance or not pay other way. I imagine if they had abrogated the law before, people would have flocked to get insurance, without need of mandate.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  7. ebdoug wrote:

    Hassan, I agree with you completely the way the law is written now. Except for the very rich like Romney who can pay cash out of pocket.
    And I agree completely that that this should have been implemented earlier “no insurance, no treatment.” New York State has insurance for all according to income for years and years. People still don’t get it.
    When I did a tax return this spring, the client said that they had no health insurance to go to doctors to get his wife on disability She had turned in union thugs who waited until her husband left for his paper delivery route and beat her into the hospital. She lost her job, no short term memory, can’t hold a new job. Their health insurance ran out. “But,” I said.” you have two small businesses. Your farm and your delivery route.” On March 29th just before the deadline for the affordable care act, he called the New York line for health care for small businesses, waiting and hour and a half (poor timing). Within half an hour, the helpful man had them on Medicaid and permission to check their return on-line each year. He can now get his wife to a doctor and start getting her on disability. (in his spare time ho, ho.)

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  8. Michael wrote:

    Hassan, your argument rests on a faulty assumption: Individuals are capable of making rational decisions about risk. They are NOT. There is a VERY LARGE body of evidence in psychology that shows people underestimate common risks while overestimating rare threats. That’s why everyone freaks out about terrorism but no one does about drunk driving, despite that the latter kills 10-15,000 people per year.

    See here for instance. Most people don’t think their house is going to burn down soon, but there are 365,000 house fires per year. People underestimate the risk and “forget” (or choose) to forgo insurance. The result is tragic. Firefighters were on the scene but were ordered to not intervene.

    The efficiency of the private sector relies on rational actors pursuing their self-interests. In certain economic sectors, actors are demonstrably not rational, so private market forces CANNOT produce optimal efficiencies.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    “The efficiency of the private sector relies on rational actors pursuing their self-interests. In certain economic sectors, actors are demonstrably not rational, so private market forces CANNOT produce optimal efficiencies.”

    Then why I have to buy insurance from private market? Either it is private or public, what is this hideous mixture of public mandate with private profits?

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, almost everything is a combination of public and private, and there is nothing inherently hideous about it. I start a business, I use public roads, money issued by the government, follow government rules and regulations.

    You are perhaps confusing this with situations like when our stupid government bails out banks, thus making gains private while making the risks public.

    There are other countries (including Japan and Switzerland) who have a public mandate and private insurance companies, and it works reasonably well, and far better than our system before Obamacare.

    See also comment #3, which was delayed posting.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  11. Michael wrote:

    “Then why [do] I have to buy insurance from [a] private market?” You’re missing the point. Sure, you may be buying from a (mostly) private market. But that doesn’t mean that it is optimally efficient.

    And IK, I, and others here have been over this many, many, many, many times. A more efficient single payer system was dropped early in the game, because Obama et al. perceived this hybrid approach as politically feasible (after all, it was built on Republican models) while single payer was not. That’s why you’re stuck with a crappy hybrid system: Obama tried to play nice with the GOP and they crapped on him in return.

    Monday, June 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  12. Jon wrote:

    On GDP, the truth is that ALL economic activity, even the cost of health care, is rolled up into positive GDP. The only way GDP can be affected negatively by Obamacare is when less money is spent on total health care than before… which is in fact likely, but is certainly not a bad thing.

    Less money spent on needless drugs or the prices of drugs being reduced overall will have the same effect, as would fewer people being hospitalized as a result of traffic accidents or gunshot or knife wounds.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink