The encumbered launch of the President’s signature legislation is an opportunity to reevaluate the considerations that make for truly effective public policy.
The December 23 deadline for enrolling for coverage under Obamacare has arrived, and with it, many users are finding premium rates to be higher than anticipated, while coverage benefits continue to underwhelm.
The situation has prompted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to warn against the possible collapse of the new health insurance exchange system, saying: “If it’s so much more expensive than what we anticipated, and if the coverage is not as good as what we’ve had, you’ve got a complete meltdown at that time.”
Manchin, a moderate Democrat whose own positions vary from his party’s leadership, has been an opponent of Obamacare’s individual mandate since the very beginning – even calling for a delay of this aspect of the law, a move that he says will allow the new health care plans to adjust to the dynamics of the health care market.
Given the sticker shock that many uninsured Americans have experienced upon seeing the not-so-affordable prices for the plans under the “Affordable Care Act,” a reexamining of the individual mandate would seem to be in order. Of course, at present, nearly all who are eligible for coverage through the exchange must enroll or face stiff tax penalties the following year. But this alone is not enough to determine the long-term success of the program, which must be patient- and results-oriented. Even from the mismanaged launch of Healthcare.gov, it seemed as if the execution of the entire system was conceived with no consideration on its concrete impact and feasibility. And ultimately, that is the measure of the success of public policy: that theory become a workable reality when the rubber meets the road.
Alberto González is the Associate Editor for Aleteia's English edition.