By Martin Feldstein
Obamacare, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the health-insurance program enacted by US President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats over the unanimous opposition of congressional Republicans. It was designed to cover those Americans without private or public health insurance – about 15% of the US population.
Opponents of Obamacare have failed to stop it in the courts and, more recently, in Congress. The program was therefore formally launched on October 1. Although it has been hampered by a wide range of computer problems and other technical difficulties, the program is likely to be operating by sometime in 2014.
CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe big question is whether it will function as intended and survive permanently. There is a serious risk that it will not.
CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe potentially fatal flaw in Obamacare is the very same feature that appeals most to its supporters: the ability of even those with a serious preexisting health condition to buy insurance at the standard premium.
CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThat feature will encourage those who are not ill to become or remain uninsured until they have a potentially costly medical diagnosis. The resulting shift in enrollment away from low-cost healthy patients to those with predictably high costs will raise insurance companies’ cost per insured person, driving up the premiums that they must charge. As premiums rise, even more relatively healthy individuals will be encouraged to forego insurance until illness strikes, causing average costs and premiums to rise further.
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