Day One of Obamacare…what to make?

Posted on October 2, 2013 by

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Yesterday the health care exchanges were opened for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with various reviews, but acknowledged “glitches” that left many unable to sign up.  MSNBC anchor tried and failed after 30+ minutes, including time on the phone that never got her into the system:

Republicans naturally trumpeted this as another indicator that this is a program not ready for prime time, while Mr. Obama suggested the glitches prove that this is a very popular program.  Since it is so popular, millions of Americans are trying to get into the system which is bogging down the system.  Since we have several months to get in the system, it will be great.

Yet it seems to me that both arguments fall well short of giving us any understanding of whether this program will work.  Mr. Obama is likely correct that many of the most pervasive technical problems seen yesterday will be sorted out in the weeks/months ahead.  Yet these are just the tip of the technological iceberg in trying to run this system; if the initial hiccups are representative of a broader problem, it may be more difficult for the ACA to work.  But its obviously premature to say.  Likewise, considering Mr. Obama’s claim, what difference does it make that millions of American’s are trying to access the system?  Obamacare–just like any other government program–will create winners and losers in the country, independent of the hotly contested issue of whether it will be a net positive benefit to the country or not.  The winners in Obamacare are those older, sicker citizens while the losers are going to be younger, healthier citizens.  It’s not surprising that millions with no health insurance want to sign up–but that tells us nothing whether the program is going to be a success.  The key question is will young, healthy people be willing to sign up and subsidize older people with preexisting conditions?  Even if they are, it might not be good news.  On that, the jury is still out.

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Posted in: Obamacare