Many of my liberal friends are gloating over a report by the HHS, explaining how awesome PPACA (“Obamacare”) is going to be. Lots and lots of people are going to get insurance for really cheap! Yay! This will be a success!

Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard takes issue with these numbers. They cite the American Action Forum, who claims that the data is faulty and misleading. Boo!

A few weeks ago, we were having a very similar conversation. Liberals talking about how much was going to be saved, conservatives about how that’s not the case.

In a way, you’d almost think that it would be the other way around. Because, within a year’s time, we’re going to find out whether PPACA raises or lowers consumer costs. And if people believe the liberals now, they’re going to be really disappointed to when the rates that were supposed to go down end up going up or staying about the same. But if they believe the conservatives, they’ll be thrilled when rates don’t end up going up after all.

So what’s going on here? There are three possibilities: One good, one middle, one bad.

It’s possible that this isn’t framing at all. Rather, liberals genuinely believe that Obama’s law is a good one. They believe it – or want to believe it – so much that they’re latching on to any indication that it is the case. And on the other side, conservatives genuinely see disaster. So when Avik Roy releases numbers suggesting that consumer costs will go up, that is vindicating.

The middle is that everyone is itching to be right and nobody wants to admit that they’re wrong. This isn’t ideal, because the truth doesn’t care what we think and this represents a blind spot. But neither is it all bad. Everyone is more or less lining up behind what they believe.

The depressing possibility is that since nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, everyone still is actually trying to frame the narrative. While the dangers above are real (each side setting expectations where a middling result will make people feel the opposite of how each side wants them to feel), in all likelihood the results are going to be muddled. Some people will save money in even the most pessimistic scenario. Some people will have to spend more even in the most optimistic scenario.

So then it’s ultimately about thwarting the truth, whatever it is. Laying the groundwork so that if costs go down and people save money, conservatives will be vindicated by whatever minority of people finds themselves in a worse spot and suggesting that said minority is actually the typical case. Likewise, if almost everybody ends up having to spend more, the liberals will have laid the groundwork to argue that we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes and bank accounts.

I offer no hard prediction on what is going to happen. I am preparing for the worst. Perhaps because in the end I couldn’t get on board with PPACA and so want to be vindicated. But mostly, I think, so that I will be pleasantly surprised if I am wrong and won’t be too disappointed if I am right.

Category: Hospital, Newsroom

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11 Responses to The Advance Need To Have Been Right

  1. mike shupp says:

    I suspect the numbers are going to look pretty awful for a while. People who didn’t have insurance will be forking out billions of dollars suddenly for something they used to ignore. Bad Obamacare! And hospitals which just used to moan a bit and shrug it off when people came in for emergency care and walked without paying anything will suddenly be reporting increased usage and payments. Nasty bad Obamacare!! And people who haven’t been to doctors for a long time will suddenly start going to doctors and then will go to pharmacies for prescriptions for ailments that they’d previously ignored or just put up with. Evil Obamacare!

    Summing up, I expect a lot of people who haven’t been getting much medical care will be getting rather more, and I expect they’ll make the most of it– something like elderly low-income folk who suddenly become eligible for medicare. Four or five years downstream we’ll have a better notion about how this has worked out. (And lefties and righties will probably still be arguing about it.)

    • trumwill says:

      (And lefties and righties will probably still be arguing about it.)


      I am mostly interested in the financial side of things. That it would increase coverage and usage was, to me, the least controversial claim. Either utilization will go up along with costs, or the increases will be less than projected by its supporters and, ultimately, so will the costs as estimated by its critics.

      Seems that right now we’re getting such different projections that it’ll be hard for both sides to claim they were right all along. But I suspect they’ll find a way.

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