What others say: Obamacare’s confusing numbers

  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014 4:43pm
  • Opinion

One of the Affordable Care Act’s bothersome traits is its reliance on numbers to judge its success — and those numbers vary, depending on who provides them.

That said, President Obama’s signature legislation is having a profound effect on health care in the United States. By any measure, more Americans have health insurance today than before the law went into effect — a 25 percent reduction in the uninsured this year, by most estimates. Obamacare may be a flawed law, but in that sense, it is working.

Saturday marks the law’s second open-enrollment period — a critical phase in Obamacare’s growth. But here’s where the numbers begin to vary.

On Monday, the Obama administration estimated that 9.1 million people would sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by the end of 2015. That’s several million fewer than most independent projections and those of the Congressional Budget Office, according to The New York Times. The CBO’s estimate: 13 million in 2015.

Anne Filipic, the president of the nonprofit Enroll America, which advocates for expanded health care coverage, told The Times that the White House had taken “a pragmatic, analytical approach” to its 2015 projections. It’s easy to understand why.

Memories of Obamacare’s botched rollout and website issues haven’t fully subsided. What was to be the shining moment of Obama’s presidency was overwhelmed by a website that crashed under pressure. Months went by before the story about the Affordable Care Act wasn’t a story about an administration with a balky, ineffective online signup.

Today, the Obama administration’s reserved projections are in sharp contrast to its bold predictions of the past. Understandable? Yes. But it’s a byproduct of previous mistakes, an administration that would rather undersell the law’s potential now instead of being forced to address missed goals tomorrow.

As we’ve seen for the last six years, this White House hasn’t excelled at messaging and timing, especially on matters as important as the Affordable Care Act. Low-balling its projections on Obamacare may limit future disappointments, but it’s hardly the tact of a confident administration.

— Anniston (Alabama) Star,

Nov. 11

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