Be Thankful for What You Don’t Have

Thanks to the garbage “Affordable Care Act,” at the end of this year I’m losing my health insurance for—oh, the second or third time, I’ve lost track I guess. This time is a bit different, because this time around I have a family, and family insurance—particularly under Obamacare, a law which has a curious tendency to drive health care prices up instead of down—is not cheap. We’re losing our already-pricey health insurance and we’ll likely be forced to buy even more expensive stuff, but hey—at least Barack Obama’s greatest domestic achievement is still intact. That is what really matters. “It’s the law of the land,” progressives repeated over and over and over back then. You bet it is—my family knows it all too well.

Somewhat related to our situation, at Vox, Jeff Stein declares: “The Virginia elections will decide if 400,000 people get health care.” Sounds like high stakes, but the matter is a bit more politically tedious than that:

If enough Democrats get elected to the legislature, they can expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Whether Democrats can regain the statehouse, redraw Virginia’s congressional districts, and fulfill one of Obamacare’s promises will depend on dozens of below-the-radar statehouse races. And despite a surge in interest from previous years, it’s still not clear Democrats on the ground have the resources to win.

Well, maybe they do and maybe they don’t, though after losing to Donald J. Trump, it is hard to picture the Democrats winning a lone-runner election for dogcatcher. Nevertheless, Stein is right: if they take Virginia, Democrats will almost certainly expand Medicaid to nearly half a million more state residents.

And that is a poverty, no pun intended: Medicaid, properly understood, is supposed to be a last-ditch resource for the most destitute among us. Expanding the program in the way that Obamacare has done—so that it functions as a substitute for private insurance for millions and millions of able-bodied working adults—is useful if you’re trying to tout the raw numbers of Americans who have gained “insurance” under the Affordable Care Act. What you don’t mention is that (a) it’s junk government insurance that fewer and fewer doctors are willing to take and (b) letting more and more people on it makes it overburdened, crowded, and less effective, particularly for the people who genuinely need it, i.e. very poor and disabled people.

So this is the real accomplishment of Barack Obama’s proudest domestic legacy: it has disrupted the health insurance market for millions of families, made it more expensive for virtually everyone, and “expanded” “health insurance” by blanketing millions of people with the worst public insurance program in the developed world. I want you to ponder this for a moment: every time Republicans mull over the (admittedly nonexistent) possibility of repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Left has a stunning, screeching meltdown, claiming that conservatives want to take us back to, variously, the 1950s, the 1920s, the Middle Ages, the recombination epoch, whenever: we’re told that repealing Obamacare will cast us all into a time when pregnant widows were forced to pay $7800 per month for health insurance and Fat Cat male supervisors could steal the diaphragms out of their female employees’ purses at will and only the super-duper top 0.00000000001% could afford quality health insurance.

All of this for a trash law that, by any reasonable metric, has failed in its stated purpose and continues to fail. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose health insurance hasn’t been disrupted by the Democrats’ good intentions, I’m happy for you. But there are a great many of us who haven’t been so lucky, and who continue to bounce from plan to plan in a volatile market without knowing when we’ll be dropped from one plan and what the next plan will look like or cost. I’m sort of sick of being told how great this stupid law is. The least Democrats could do is say: “Yes, this law sucks. And it’s our fault. And we’re okay with that.”

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