How Hard Is It To Explain ObamaCare?

A blog about business and economics.
March 28 2012 12:09 PM

How Hard Is It To Explain ObamaCare?

A lot of people, including former White House spokesman Reid Cherlin, seem to think it's extremely difficult to explain and defend the core elements of the Affordable Care Act to people:

Whatever its downsides, the Affordable Care Act delivers some pretty serious benefits: tens of millions more Americans covered, no more getting dropped because of pre-existing conditions, closing the Medicare donut hole, slowing the explosive growth of health care costs, and on and on. It's just that it's so goddamn hard to explain the thing—whether you're the guy answering questions from reporters or the guy answering questions from the nine justices who will decide the bill's fate.
Advertisement

It's true that the law covers a lot of ground and that if you want to explain each and every provision you're in for a long afternoon. But as a journalist who writes a lot about public policy, I don't think that the main element of it is nearly as complicated as the Obama administration has convinced itself it is.

The issue is that they wanted to ban insurance companies from discriminating against people on the basis of their health status. But what people who've enacted this kind of non-discrimination rule on a state level have found is that this pushes premiums up too high because nobody wants to sign up for insurance until they're already sick. So the government will fine people who don't pay into the system, but also will provide tax credits to make sure it's affordable for everyone. The legal issues are (a) does Congess have the authority to regulate the insurance industry in this way, and (b) do they have the authority to take the steps they deem necessary and proper to make the regulations work?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Politico Wonders Why Gabby Giffords Is So “Ruthless” on Gun Control

Behold
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?