As the federal government moves forward to implement President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services is slated to spend millions of dollars promoting the unpopular legislation. In the face of this publicity blitz, it is worth remembering that the law was originally sold largely on four grounds—all of which have become increasingly implausible.Kessler describes how the four main pillars upon which the law was sold are not turning out to be true. Health care costs are not falling; they are rising. It is not going to reduce the deficit; it will increase it. People are not able to keep their insurance plans, even when they are able to stay in the same plan, those plans are not the same as they were. It will not increase productivity.
Gee, who could have seen that coming? Well, me, for one.
Not only were these consequences entirely foreseeable, as Kessler points out, in some cases they were intended. Take the claim that those who liked their insurance plans could keep them.
This claim is obviously false. Indeed, disruption of people's existing insurance is one of the law's stated goals. On one hand, the law seeks to increase the generosity of policies that it deems too stingy, by limiting deductibles and mandating coverage that the secretary of Health and Human Services thinks is "essential," whether or not the policyholder can afford it. On the other hand, the law seeks to reduce the generosity of policies that it deems too extravagant, by imposing the "Cadillac tax" on costly insurance plans.The proponents of Obamacare made claims that they knew, or had to know, were not true. But they didn't care. They were willing to do anything to get the bill passed and they did.
Some believe that expanding insurance coverage is a moral imperative regardless of its cost. Most supporters of the law, however, use more nuanced arguments that depend on assumptions that are increasingly impossible to defend. If we are ever to have an honest debate about entitlement spending, we will need to distinguish these positions from one another—and see them for what they really are, rather than what we wish they would be.Obamacare's supporters have never tolerated an honest assessment of the law. They shoved it down the American people's throats and were willing to do so regardless of the consequences (both intended and unintended), which included electoral defeat for many of them.
But it is going to be the rest of us who will really be paying the price for this law - in higher health care costs, disruption of insurance coverage, increased deficits and a slower economy.