Stillwater News Press

Opinion

April 22, 2014

BYRON YORK: Obamacare: Good or bad?

STILLWATER, Okla. — When it comes to the politics of Obamacare, there's really only one question that matters: How many Americans are benefiting from the new health care system, and how many are hurting? Problem is, we know more about the first part of the question than the second.

Obama-care's advocates have pushed hard against Republican attempts to highlight Americans who have been particularly hard hit by the new law.

Those advocates have hit back so hard that it appears they are trying to discredit the notion that anyone has been hurt by the system.

So who has, in fact, been harmed by Obamacare? The first question, of course, is what “harmed” means. But let's define it as anyone who faces higher premiums, or higher deductibles and/or a narrower choice of hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs than they had before.

Everything we know about the system suggests there are millions of Americans in that position, but how many? “There is no hard number,” says health care analyst Bob Laszewski. The reasons are as complicated as Obamacare itself.

“That increase could come in the form of higher premiums, more co-pays and deductibles, and narrower networks,” Laszewski says. “A carrier might have only increased rates 15 percent but then created a narrow network worth another 25 percent, for example. Even when they did the above, some individuals might have seen a 15 percent decrease and others a 50 percent increase – many demographic issues skewed the rate result. So, getting any simple 'it went up 34.7 percent' answer just isn't possible.”

The bottom line, according to Laszewski: “We have literally millions of people each impacted a bit differently.” That's hard to quantify and turn into a neat political argument.

We know more about Obamacare's beneficiaries. First there are the roughly 3 million low-income people added to the Medicaid rolls.

Then there are the people who receive federal subsidies to buy health coverage through Obamacare's exchanges. In late March, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that “3.5 million people have qualified for a total of about $10 billion in annual premium subsidies, or an average of about $2,890 per person.”

Add to that young people who are now remaining on their parents' coverage until age 26 and the fairly small number of people who were in the past denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

How does that compare to the number of people who have gotten a bad deal from Obamacare? It's impossible to know right now, and that makes it impossible to make much of a political calculation. Will people who pay more, or who get less, or both, take their Obamacare unhappiness out against Democrats this November?

Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Must Read