The fourth time’s charm? The final day for ObamaCare enrollment in 2017 has gotten lots of press coverage, perhaps in part because it might be the final day, period. Republicans in Congress and newly inaugurated President Donald Trump have pledged to repeal the health-care bill and its mandates, so this might be last call for good. CBS News reminds its viewers to get on the ball if they want to be part of history, or something:
President Donald Trump and Republicans have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But Obamacare is still available, and the deadline for enrolling for coverage or changing an existing health care plan — Jan. 31 — is fast approaching. …
About half of the U.S. population is covered through employer-based insurance, while another 35 percent receive coverage through Medicaid and Medicare. The rest need to sign up before the deadline — or risk facing fees for not being covered.
CBS News isn’t just reporting on ObamaCare, they’re selling it too:
More than 20 million people have gained coverage since the health care law passed in 2010, bringing the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low of around 9 percent. In addition to subsidized private insurance, the law offers an option to expand Medicaid for low-income people.
Er, that’s not “in addition” — the Medicaid expansion is a large part of the “more than 20 million.” The figure announced in the clip above, “over 11 million” for this year’s open enrollment in the exchanges, is less than half of what HHS projected enrollments would be by this time. I covered the failures in last week’s column at The Fiscal Times:
Practically speaking, a punt won’t work because of the increasing instability in Obamacare exchanges. Democrats insisted that the ACA would deliver near-universal health insurance coverage and that 23 million Americans would get insurance through the exchanges by 2017. Instead, a new projection from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 10 million will pay premiums for coverage this year, and that number will only go up to 13 million after another decade. On top of that, the number of uninsured Americans will “remain around 27 million or 28 million” each year under the current system.
And that “historic low of around 9 percent” in the uninsured rate overlooks the fact that many people can’t access the benefits. Premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed upward to where consumers have to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket to see the first benefit from their policies:
That makes it rather difficult to pin a failure to achieve universal coverage on a repeal of Obamacare and calls into question whether it’s a worthwhile goal. The Affordable Care Act has not just missed the mark on universal coverage, and the attempts to achieve it have made insurance coverage more unaffordable than ever thanks to massive premium increases (averaging 25 percent this year alone) and skyrocketing deductibles that make accessing insurance benefits all but impossible anyway.
Thus, the crisis has reached a pitch to where a choice to avoid governance no longer exists. Add in the flight of insurers from the exchanges and the collapse of the government-backed co-ops, and the acute need for action becomes undeniable, regardless of the difficulty. Failure to act is simply not an option any longer.
The puff pieces on ObamaCare have been a routine media thread for the last four years, carrying water for the prior administration instead of delving deeply into the internal contradictions of the system as it collapses. They’re selling a bill of goods, but thankfully the product won’t be “As Seen on TV” for very much longer.