The January Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll shows that just 24% of the uninsured approve of ObamaCare. That’s down from 40% the month before the reform officially launched in October, and it’s a full 10 points below the public’s overall favorable rating.
Incredibly, more than twice as many uninsured say they’re worse off because of ObamaCare than say it’s helped. What’s more, just 7% of the uninsured say they tried to get coverage through an ObamaCare exchange. Nearly 60% say they hadn’t done anything to get coverage over the previous six months.
Given that Democrats claimed to have specifically tailored it to help the uninsured, these results make absolutely no sense.
Could it be that Democrats grossly misunderstood the population they were trying to help? Or had they’d been peddling lies about the uninsured population for so long — as a way to sell “universal health care” — that they’d come to believe their own propaganda?
It’s more likely the latter of the two. Despite the endlessly repeated mantra about 40-plus million uninsured, data have shown for decades the actual ranks of the uninsured were much smaller, and the population less helpless, than Democrats routinely claimed.
As IBD reported, 42% of the uninsured are either non-citizens, eligible for Medicaid, or actually enrolled in Medicaid. Another big chunk earns more than $75,000 a year. And the vast majority of those who lose insurance get it back within a year, about half within months.
Plus, various surveys find that only a tiny fraction — just 5% in the Kaiser survey — say they don’t have insurance because of poor health or age.
But admitting that the real uninsured problem is narrow would have undermined the Democrats’ goal of “comprehensive” health reform. So they routinely withheld such facts — as did the mainstream press, which is equally as enthusiastic about nationalized health care.
These facts help explain the relative indifference among the uninsured to ObamaCare. So far, only about 11% of those who signed up have been uninsured, although nobody knows for how long. The vast majority were just trying to continue coverage they had before ObamaCare came along.
Why should the uninsured bother? Other than threatening a modest tax penalty, ObamaCare gives them little reason to buy coverage. In fact, it practically begs them not to.
First, the plans are far too expensive, thanks to ObamaCare’s regulations, taxes, and benefit mandates. And the subsidies phase out quickly enough that many lower-middle class families will still find they can’t or don’t want to pay the costs.
Second, it won’t take long for those currently uninsured to realize that they are better off putting off the purchase, since ObamaCare guarantees they can get coverage after they get sick, and at subsidized rates.
And third, the law deliberately hamstrings the IRS’s ability to collect the tax penalty, making it a nearly worthless motivational tool.
Ironically, if the uninsured don’t show up at the exchanges, ObamaCare will expose the Democrats’ big lie about them. Then, perhaps, the nation could get busy enacting targeted, market-based health reforms that actually make insurance more affordable, more portable, and more attractive to those who don’t buy it today.
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This article was written by the editorial board of Investors Business Daily.