Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ACA vs. Imaginary System is not a Good Argument

I wouldn't use the word "great" to describe the ACA, but Matthew Yglesias does highlight one of the things that drives me batty when I read criticism of the health care law: "a lot of this criticism comes in the form of comparing the reality of the ACA to an abstract idealized system rather than comparing it to the status quo."

Is Obamacare really fucking  complicated? Yes, the pre-Obamacare health care system was really fucking complicated too. Are a lot of people ignorant about the health care law? Yes, but a lot of people had little idea how the pre-ACA system really worked either, including their own insurance policy. Have insurance rates gone up since the ACA was passed? Yes, but they also were rising before it was passed and it looks like the ACA will significantly cut costs in the States that are actually trying to enact the law rather than undermine it. There are plenty of things to complain about in the American health care system. It's just that a lot of the complaints directed against Obamacare are actually complaints about problems in the health care system that existed independently of that law.

There's nothing wrong with criticizing the new health care law. It definitely has problems. But if you're going to make an argument that the law sucks and should not have been passed, the relevant comparison is what we have now versus what we would have had without Obamacare. If something sucks now under the ACA, you need to also argue that that thing didn't suck as much before the ACA was enacted or at least would not have sucked as much if it never was passed.