Patience and the Affordable Care Act

It’s always bothered me that the Obama administration didn’t come up with a catchy name for the health insurance provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We’ve got “Social Security”, “Medicare” and “Medicaid”, so why couldn’t the administration come up with an equally helpful name for this thing, instead of leaving an opening for it to be called “Obamacare”?

I bet if Saint Ronald was still President, one of the first things on his agenda would have been to give his pet program a great name that would help sell it to the American people. But Obama apparently thinks he’s above such things.

Nevertheless, the important thing is that this landmark legislation is going into effect two days from now, regardless of what any misguided, foolish, cowardly and/or evil House Republicans do in the meantime.

I know people (including myself) who will probably be taking advantage of the ACA in the relatively near future, so I’ve been wondering how much it’s going to cost. Unfortunately, there are reports in the media that suggest what “average” premiums will be. There was one such unhelpful article in the New York Times today: “‘Affordable Care’ or a Rip-Off?”.

The problem is that you can’t know what a person’s or a family’s costs will be until you factor in where they live, how old they are and, especially, what their income is. Many or most people in this country, not just the poorest among us, will be eligible for subsidies from the government. In fact, if you’re eligible for a subsidy, you won’t even have to wait for the IRS to send you a check. The subsidy will be applied right up front when you pay your insurance premium (which means that some people won’t have to pay anything at all).

There is good news here. The health insurance premiums being discussed so far are generally cheaper than what people would pay for private health insurance today, and the premiums are going to be lower, often much lower, for many of us after the subsidies are applied.

So maybe everyone who’s interested should wait a couple days and then go to to see the real numbers (and also see the pretty young woman with a big smile on her face). I’m sure we can all wait a couple more days.

Here’s today’s New York Times editorial on the importance of the ACA and the subsidies:

If you’re in the mood for even more good news, take a look at this column from Nicholas Kristof. Here’s his conclusion, supported by statistics from the World Bank, the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development:

So let’s acknowledge that there’s plenty of work remaining — and that cycles of poverty in America must be a top priority at home — yet also celebrate a triumph for humanity. The world of extreme poverty and disease that characterized life for most people throughout history may now finally be on its way out.

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