Obamacare Success Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Hey-it’s working! Or something…

Attention Obamacare haters: The law you despise appears to be working.

The Census Bureau this morning released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance.  My colleagues will be back later to discuss the income findings, but I want to flag the health care numbers right away. For the first time in three years, the proportion of Americans who have health insurance went up, from 83.7 percent in 2010 to 84.3 percent in 2011.

Pop the champagne, everything is just fine now. Just for fun, however, why don’t we dig a little deeper into the news.

And what explains the shift? The breakdown by age offers some clues. Relative to last year, the percentage of young adults with health insurance rose by 2.2 points. That was the largest increase of any group. And it was the second year in a row that coverage among young adults increased. Overall, according to Census officials, the percentage of young Americans has gone up by about 4 percent during that span.

As you probably know, the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to enroll on their parents’ health insurance plans if they have no access to coverage on their own. That provision surely doesn’t account for all of the young adults getting coverage. But it surely explains a lot of it.

“No access”. Because, as everyone knows, the first thing that happens when an American hits the age of 20 is that he or she is banned from applying for health insurance for seven years.

The spin here is obvious. The economy is still so dreadful that young adults are being forced to relive their high school years at mom’s house and even President Obama is telling them it’s going to be rough for a while. In this Through the Looking Glass version of America we’re living in the fact that the demographic that needs it least can get health insurance rather than a job is seen as a sign of success for Obamacare.

One small reality check for those who say the law is “working”. Access to health insurance and access to health care are very different and the relationship between the two will be made more difficult under Obamacare.

In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs.


Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.

There is also the matter of the physicians the law may be driving away from medicine altogether.

Blaming low compensation and the hassles of healthcare reform, 34% of physicians say they plan to leave the practice of medicine over the next decade, according to a new national survey.

Remember, we have to repeal the law so we don’t have to keep finding out what’s in it.

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