It’s Not Easy to Tell If Obamacare is Working

Sarah Kliff says it’s “far too early to tell if the nation’s new health-care law is working. We know that no ‘death panels’ have materialized but, aside from that, have very, very little information about how the Affordable Care Act’s newly insured are changing our health-care system.”

Do more people have health insurance? “This is actually difficult to measure, at least in the short-term, because there’s no national clearinghouse of people who do or don’t have insurance. The combination of insurance cancellations and exchange sign-ups actually make it really hard to know, at this very moment, whether the health law has lead to a net gain in coverage.”

Do Americans have better access to health care? “One metric researchers were really interested in in Massachusetts — and will likely follow here — is what happened to everyone else who already had coverage, when many more people gained access.”

Are Americans getting healthier? “Proving a link between health insurance coverage and health status improvement can actually be challenging. Trips to the doctor are, obviously, only one factor among dozens that contribute to an individual’s physical well-being.”

Is health care becoming more affordable? “There are a few ways to measure affordability, one being the country’s overall tab for health spending, and watching how quickly — or slowly — it grows… You can also survey Americans directly, about whether they feel it’s easier to afford health care. Perhaps surprisingly, these two metrics don’t always add up.”

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  • Tim Albright

    How is it a help to exempt those who were dis-insured? It stills leaves them w/ poor coverage. We must give them Medicare cards
    Obama must not abandon those losing insurance, like Bush did to the 1000s stranded at New Orleans Superdome during Katrina. Millions Dis-Insured by Govt delays,GiveThem Temporary Medicare Cards,SinglePayer,Try it,We’ll Like It

    • gobluth

      But then you’d essentially be rewarding people who happened to have poor coverage previously, and by extension punishing those who did happen to have insurance that met Obamacare’s minimum requirements.

    • shaysite

      Dis-insured is a misleading way to put it; makes it sound as if they will have no coverage, when the reality is much more benign: they’ll a different type of coverage.

  • Tim Albright

    I was just on the phone for 90 minutes talking to a service rep at the obamacare 800#. I have a friend who had earning just below the federal poverty level (FPL)in 2013. The benefit estimators on tell him he must apply for Medicaid if expects to earn the same income in 2014. He just started a new job where he should earn about a $1,000 more or around $16,000. Since that figure is above the FPL and the estimators tell him that he qualifies for a monthly subidy toward his premium of $488 per month. We ask the rep what happens if he estimates $16,000 and signs up for a Silver plan with a premium around $488/mo but then when he files his taxes at the end of 2014 his earnings total only $15,000. Since this is below the FPL, does he owe IRS back the $488/mo or about $6,000.00 since the subsidy is a tax credit? He won’t have that kind of money. Will he get Medicaid retroactively for 2014. It took her a long time to look it up and the only thing she could say was that if he earns more than his estimate he might owe some of the subsidy back but if he earns less, he should not owe any of the subsidy back. She could not give us a reference to a regulation, a pamphlet, or a web page at She also explain exactly what would happen if he calls in July to let HHS know is earnings will be less. Will his subsidy stop? If so, what month? And what if it takes his state 90 days to process a Medicaid application? Will there be a gop in coverage? Will he owe the first 6 months of subsidy money to IRS at the end of the year? Very Disconcerting?

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