Friday, October 25, 2013

Why Obamacare Is Like Three Mile Island - Bloomberg

Does this mean that we are definitely going to have a death spiral? Of course I can't say that; I'm not psychic. There are various steps that the administration might take, legal or quasi-legal, to try to get the insurers to keep selling cheap policies even as their costs rise. And as I pointed out a while back, the young may buy simply because this is now the law of the land, even if it's difficult, and even if we delay the individual mandate.
But, of course, there was no way to be 100 percent certain that invading Iraq would turn out badly; smart critics of that policy argued (correctly) that invading Iraq ran unacceptably high risks. The goal was a great one: Free Iraq from a dictator who was a destabilizing geopolitical force and help the Iraqi people to establish a prosperous and functional democracy. But the downside risk of embroiling the U.S. in an unwinnable war that would kill a lot of Iraqis and destabilize the region even further was horrifying, and all too likely. Looking at the aftermath, I sure wish I'd listened -- and even more that our leaders had.
Which reminds me of something that I've been wanting to say. I admire the way that fearless liberals have come out to criticize the rollout of the exchanges -- much more quickly and completely than supporters of the Iraq War managed, I'm afraid. (Though of course, in fairness, the malfunctioning exchanges are right here where everyone can see them, not thousands of miles away.) But as with Iraq, I fear that the bitterness of the debate in the run-up is making the administration and many of its supporters discount too deeply the valid criticism coming from the opposition. It is true that I, and many others who are talking about the problems with these exchanges, opposed the health-care law; my preference is not for a delay but for completely getting rid of this law, and starting over with something that works better. (More on that later.)
But I'm also an American who wants our insurance market to work. My first preference is for Obamacare to go away, making room for a more market-oriented solution. Failing that, of course I want Obamacare to work as its designers envisioned, rather than destroying the market for individual insurance and costing the federal government boatloads of money that it doesn't have. It's just that I don't think this is the most likely outcome, and frankly, it's looking less likely with every ham-fisted management decision that endangers the long-term health of the system and gains only some evanescent political advantage.
In this, I expect I feel much the same way as patriotic critics of the war who wanted the troops brought home ASAP because they thought that our efforts in Iraq were doomed -- but, failing that, would rather have seen their opponents proven right, their country prevail, and peace and prosperity come to Iraq.

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