Obamacare Making Lives Better

Jonathan Cohn observes some recent fretting about “what happens next year, when [Obamacare] starts making insurance coverage available to nearly all Americans” (“train wreck,” “chaos,” “panicked” Democratic senators, …) and regards it as a positive development:

Believe it or not, the conversation represents progress. Instead of talking about whether we should have a health care reform law, we’re talking about how well (or not well) the law is going to work. So let me spoil the surprise for you: It’s not going to work as well as many of us would like, and the initial adjustment may not be easy. The whole enterprise is going to be a work in progress. And that’ll be ok—because it will still do a lot of good and make life better for most people, particularly with the passage of time.

The key, really, is expectations. On Friday, the Commonweath Fund released a report with two key findings. One was that more young people have health insurance, thanks to Obamacare’s requirement that insurers make coverage available to people under 26. That’s a reminder of benefits the law has already delivered, without the ill-effects critics had predicted. The other finding is that large numbers of Americans remain uninsured or under-insured—simply put, they can’t get health care when they need it, or they remain exposed to financial catastrophe when they get sick. These people may be a lot better off because of Obamacare or they may be only a little bit better off. Either way, they’ll be better off—and, over time, their situation will improve. That’s not bad for government work.