With recent polls showing up to 2/3rds of Americans opposing ObamaCare in some fashion, the Los Angeles Times set out to spin the bad news for President Obama. The paper basically griped today that ObamaCare's gradual rollout was to blame for the law's poor public reception.
"As President Obama and his allies gear up to defend the landmark healthcare law he signed two years ago, they confront an unforgiving math problem: Just a tiny fraction of Americans has experienced a major benefit from the law," Times Washington bureau correspondent Noam Nevey lamented, adding:
At the same time, tens of millions have continued to see insurance premiums and medical bills rise as they did before the legislation was signed.
That reflects the design of the complex law, in which many of the key provisions were delayed in a bid to hold down costs and minimize disruptions while new systems are put in place to expand coverage. The law will not guarantee insurance to all Americans until 2014, and may take many more years to rein in healthcare costs.
Of course, President Obama and congressional Democrats have only themselves to blame for these deficiencies, given that they ran both houses of Congress and pulled out all the stop to pass ObamaCare, particularly in the Senate, where it required all manner of kickbacks and sweeteners to line up wavering Democrats from Republican-leaning states.
Nevey went on to lament that Americans just don't seem to appreciate how helpful ObamaCare is supposed to be for them, and are skeptical that it will ever be a net positive. Nevey admitted that health care costs were on the rise, but did his level best to attribute that to health insurance companies alone, and not additional burdens of new regulations that ObamaCare has planned for the industry (emphasis mine):
[T]he president and congressional Democrats had nonetheless hoped that a handful of early benefits — such as allowing adult children to remain on their parents' health plans until age 26 — would rally the public behind the law by now.
That hasn't happened, surveys indicate. "The law is still not real for the vast majority of Americans," said Mollyann Brodie, polling director for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Two-thirds of Americans say they haven't been personally affected by the law, according to the latest Kaiser tracking poll. By contrast, just 1 in 7 say they have experienced something positive from the law.
Even more ominously for the president and supporters of the law, few people have much confidence the law will ever help them. Sixty-seven percent say they believe the law will leave them worse off or won't make much of a difference, the Kaiser survey indicates. Just a quarter believe it will improve their lives.
[M]any protections, including bans on co-pays for preventive services such as cancer screenings and physicals, have a relatively small effect on most Americans' checkbooks.
Others, such as new regulations requiring insurers to spend more of their customers' premiums on medical care rather than administrative expenses, are little understood by consumers.
And some of the law's most important provisions, including initiatives to improve the quality of medical care and control costs, will probably take years to bear fruit. Many healthcare experts believe these efforts are crucially important.
They could not be put in place quickly, however. Nor could a huge expansion of insurance coverage that requires sweeping changes on the state and federal levels. "Implementing additional benefits before they could be cost-effectively administered would have backfired," said Chris Jennings, a healthcare consultant who was a top Clinton administration healthcare aide.
For now, costs continue to rise. The average annual premium for an employer-provided family health plan jumped 9% last year, to $15,073, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. Approximately 150 million people get insurance through their employer.
Although new benefits in the law probably account for some of that, most experts agree the increase reflects other factors, such as rising medical costs and profit-taking by insurers.
Nevertheless, many Americans simply aren't convinced the law will do much to help them.