But what if ObamaCare works?

To liberals, more is simply better, and the disappearing low-cost plans deserve to vanish, because they left purchasers potentially exposed to way too much financial risk. (Even the new bronze plans are really too stingy in this view — which is probably why, if you qualify for subsidies, the Connecticut Web site deliberately nudges you toward the pricier silver plans.)

Conservatives agree that these cheaper plans create more risk. But they also create a sensitivity to price — and with it, a curb on cost growth — that’s rare in a system where third-party payment has made prices opaque, arbitrary and inflated. And for a society that pretty clearly spends far too much on health care, sticking with catastrophic coverage frees up money — thousands for individuals and families, billions for the government — to spend on something other than the insurance-medical complex.

Yes, for some that money would ultimately get eaten up, and then some, by unexpected bills. But for others it might be money saved for retirement, money that pays for child care, money used to hire a contractor or buy a house. And for the public sector, it would be money for all the priorities — liberal as well as conservative — that are being undercut by rising health care costs.