It’s a good thing that President Obama has disavowed the idea of “death panels” as a mechanism of health care policy. Any humane observer, after all, would be tempted to put Obamacare out of its misery at this point.
It didn’t take long after the administration rolled out fixes to the Obamacare insurance exchange website this month for the White House to start declaring triumphantly that the Affordable Care Act is now on the road to success. We’re skeptical of that claim even on the narrowest of grounds — there are still lingering questions about the security of data entered into the website and whether information will be accurately transmitted to insurance companies.
Our concerns with Obamacare, however, are much broader. After all, as the president himself told us in October, “it’s more than just a website.”
That fact may eventually prove its undoing. The website — which, in its original incarnation was a risible example of government incompetence — is, after all, fixable, given a sufficient combination of time and effort. The same can’t be said of the internal logic of Obamacare.
Regardless of whether the website is fixed, it remains the case that Obamacare’s expansive mandates will cause millions of Americans to lose their existing insurance plans, violating the president’s pledge that Americans who are happy with their coverage can keep it. Regardless of whether the website is fixed, it remains the case that we’ll see widespread premium increases. Regardless of whether the website is fixed, it remains the case that those higher prices will send insurance markets into a death spiral, with the healthy increasingly unwilling to purchase expensive plans to subsidize the ill, a trend that will only compound over time.
Defenders of free markets will be tempted to lay the blame for this debacle on progressivism itself. That’s fair enough, but it’s to be expected. Progressives have never been able to reconcile themselves to the logic of markets. We shouldn’t expect them to start now.
For our part, we place outsized blame on the president. Mr. Obama was elected to office, at least in part, on the notion that he was possessed of a first-rate mind, with the kind of intellectual agility that often escapes partisan ideologues of both sides. When it came time to construct his signature policy initiative, however, he defaulted to liberalism’s worst instincts: government control, endless bureaucracy and market manipulation.
There was a time when it was imagined that Obamacare would be the lasting legacy of this administration. That may still prove to be true, but not on the terms that its advocates originally supposed. Rather than spending future years basking in the program’s glory, we will more likely spend them cleaning up its debris.