University professors, existing as they do in the rarified air of academia, tend to be too clever for their own good. They look for complicated explanations when simple ones would do perfectly well.
Case in point: professors Lawrence Jacobs and Suzanne Mettler recently coauthored a slightly befuddled sounding op-ed, in which they fret over the continued unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. When a policy delivers benefits, they argue, it should be popular. So why do people continue to hate ObamaCare?
According the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 38 percent of Americans approve of the health care law, yet 49 percent disapprove. While there has been some fluctuation within the last year, the favorability gap has persisted over the last three years or so. In fact, the only tie when a majority of Americans consistently approved of the law was in 2010, before the actual effects of the government’s health care takeover could be felt.
To you and me, the reason for this widespread dissatisfaction is obvious, but not to Jacobs and Mettler, who conclude with obvious frustration that the real culprit is “partisanship.”
“Prevailing attitudes of distrust in government, strong partisanship and ingrained attitudes — not features of the law itself — are perpetuating the public’s negative opinion. The ACA remains highly politicized, to say the least. Republicans in the House have voted to delay, defund or repeal the law some 60 times, and its very nickname — ObamaCare — primes us to think of the ACA through a political lens.”
That’s right, gang. It’s those evil Republicans, poisoning our minds against Dear Leader’s health care law. Oh, if only we sheep weren’t so easily led astray by Fox News telling us what to think. Thank heavens for academics, selflessly leading us out of the darkness of our ignorance.
What never seems to occur to these people is that maybe Americans don’t like the law because it has made health care in America measurably worse. Deductibles for the least expensive ObamaCare plans have more than doubled since last year, and are now approaching $7,000 for an individual, an outrageous figure that few will be able to afford, much less the least fortunate, the very people the law was supposedly designed to help.
But even if you do manage to overcome the deductible hurdle, you’re not out of the woods, as many doctors and hospitals are now refusing to accept ObamaCare exchange plans, due to their low reimbursement rate. At the same time, health savings accounts, one of the few ways still possible of increasing price transparency and reducing medical costs, are being boxed out of the ObamaCare marketplace, and more than half of the co-ops created under the law have now gone out of business. Finally, United Healthcare Group, one of the nation’s largest insurance providers, is abandoning ObamaCare plans as unprofitable.
In short, everywhere you look, ObamaCare is reducing access to health care, not expanding it. Defenders of the Affordable Care Act keep boasting about how many more people are “covered” than before, but coverage itself means nothing if you can’t afford the deductible, and if your doctor won’t accept your coverage.
It’s insulting to imply that Americans are insensitive to these problems, incapable of feeling the pain that comes from mandatory reduced access to health care, and incapable of forming informed political opinions based on these observations. I shouldn’t have to point out that people dislike a bad policy because it is bad, but in today’s world of over-analysis and eagerness to ignore obvious truths, apparently such demonstrations are necessary.
Then again, when you consider that ObamaCare, like all big government programs, was passed by people who regard consumers as incapable of tending to their own well-being, and who need to be cared for by a paternalistic state, I suppose it isn’t all that surprising after all. (For more from the author of “What’s the Real Reason Americans Hate Obamacare?” please click HERE)