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Editorial: ACA succeeds despite complexity

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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This week, on Monday, the deadline for enrolling in the federal health exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act came and went, with a positive result for the White House as it was announced that the administration had met its goal of enrolling more than 7 million Americans in health-insurance plans.

President Obama took the opportunity to address the nation from the Rose Garden, saying, “All told, because of this law, millions of our fellow citizens know the economic security of health insurance who didn’t just a few years ago. That’s something to be proud of, regardless of your politics, or your feelings about me, or your feelings about this law. That’s something that’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country. There’s no good reason to go back.”

Despite this success, however, there is still vitriolic criticism being hurled at the law from the right, portraying it as everything from a crypto-Marxist plan to bankrupt the country to a socialist death panel that will lead to the eventual ruin of American democracy.

As laughable as these charges may be, there are legitimate concerns raised by some about the law, one of the more prominent being that the law is seriously convoluted, an overly confusing labyrinth that no one can understand.

That particular deficiency though, was a necessity for passage in Congress. In order to craft a law that navigated all the forces trying to destroy or change it (insurance companies, Big Pharma, ideological opponents, etc.) the law’s creators were forced to create a health-care reform package that could never be understood by the layman. If those on the right were serious about a “simple” health-reform bill, they would’ve have gladly launched their support on the simplest (and the most effective) health-care reform option: single-payer health care.

So yes, the law is complicated. But, the law seems up to this point to be doing its job despite itsĀ  being“complicated” with the administration hitting its enrollment goals on the federal levels, and state exchanges such as Kentucky and California have worked marvelously in signing up their residents for health insurance.

There’s also the argument that the Obama administration has not done enough in terms of communicating both what the law does and how to sign up for insurance. It’s clear, though, that concerns of communication are likely moot considering how successful the Affordable Care Act has been in meeting its enrollment goals. The demand for health insurance seems to have overcome the difficulties the administration had in setting up the federal insurance exchange and the bad PR that followed. What confusion remains among participants will be worked out as the program is implemented.

While silencing some criticisms of the law, the administration’s success highlights why reform was needed to the American health-care system. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that there are around 47 million Americans without health insurance. The easiest way to remedy that would have been to provide it to them through a government plan, but politics made that practical proposal impossible. Instead, this necessarily complex health-care reform law focuses on providing an exchange for people to receive private health insurance. As long as that demand for insurance remains high, the law’s central mechanisms will be a success despite any complexity.


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