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The Obamacare Festivus miracle

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Warranted or not, Obamacare took another blindside blow Friday from a new poll that shows Americans with employer-based health insurance blame the Affordable Care Act for making their plans worse.

Since the enactment of health care reform in 2010, health officials have repeatedly reassured the roughly 85 percent of adults with employer- or government-sponsored health coverage that they need not concern themselves with Obamacare. Like Festivus, the fictitious "Seinfeld" winter holiday, the Affordable Care Act was primarily designed "for the rest of us" without health coverage, they explained.

But an online survey of 1,367 adults conducted Dec. 5-9 by The Associated Press and GfK suggests that unwelcome changes are indeed afoot in employer-sponsored plans and that workers are pointing their fingers at Obamacare.

Higher premiums, copays seen

Nearly half say their plans are changing next year, with 69 percent of those respondents citing premium increases and 59 percent saying that they're seeing rising deductibles or copayments. Of those receiving such bad news, 77 percent blame Obamacare, despite the fact that the law has little direct impact on employer-sponsored health plans.

Quoting the AP story: "Employers trying to control their health insurance bills have been shifting costs to workers for years, but now those changes are blamed increasingly on 'Obamacare' instead of the economy or insurance companies."

It's an understandable response considering the pundit-quake that ensued over the plague-ridden premiere of the Obamacare state online exchanges, which, for the most part, were immediately overwhelmed by traffic.

Follow that with news that insurers were canceling some individual (non-employer) health plans that President Barack Obama had promised Americans they could keep, and Obamacare was poised to become prime suspect for any number of employer-plan changes. Sixty percent of those polled said they disapprove of the way Obama has handled the health reform rollout.

Website woes don't help

"Rightly or wrongly, people with private insurance looking at next year are really worried about what is going to happen," says Harvard School of Public Health Professor Robert Blendon. "The website is not the whole story."

Perhaps, but it certainly didn't help. While just 11 percent of those polled said they or someone in their household had tried to log on to the new health exchanges, 62 percent said they ran into problems, half were unable to buy coverage and just a quarter were able to enroll.

So yes, the rough-and-tumble rollout of Obamacare continues. At this point, I expect it to be blamed for the outcome of the Super Bowl, the Sochi Winter Olympics and the 86th Academy Awards.

But when the dust clears and the initial open enrollment period on the exchanges ends March 31, millions of Americans will have health insurance who didn't have it six months before.

That's what I'd call a Festivus miracle.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus.

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Dave Hough
March 07, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Wow, a so-called miracle. Charging those who work or work harder more money to pay for those who don't work or those who work in low paying jobs... and that's your definition a miracle. This country is doomed and will be brought down by the ignorant and the lazy, because they continue to vote for "leaders" who want to tear this country apart and make it 100% dependent on gov't. Eventually, the tax base will not be able to support the bloated gov't and those who live off of it.

December 17, 2013 at 8:17 am

Wow! Great defense of Obamacare. Would have been much more convincing if you had some fact/statistics to back up your position. Unfortunately all you could do is point to stats saying people think their rates will be going up.

What people are responding to is basic economics. The ACA requires insurors to cover millions of additional people, cover things like psychiatric care that most people never covered before plus allowed people to buy insurance after they're sick.

You don't need a PhD in economics to know that means that prices will rise.

But you go ahead and make fun of them. Those who can't refute the facts often turn to ridicule. It keeps readers from recognizing that their arguments are hollow.