Politics

Obamacare is in Crisis Now. Right Now.

Psst. Anic-Pay! Bloomberg‘s Megan McArdle (who has been on an incredible roll lately**) takes issue with the idea that the Obama administration needn’t panic about Obamacare, as long as it can get its glitch-plagued health care exchanges up and running by the end of the year. Wrong, she suggests. It’s time to panic. Now. Why? Because the exchanges are the way to sign up young, healthy people and prevent the fabled “death spiral,” in which only older, sicker people sign up for insurance, causing rates to rise and healthier people to drop out, causing rates to rise even more, etc.  Young people won’t make the effort to look up insurance companies on their own when they don’t really care that much about getting insurance anyway. They won’t try 50 times to use a balky web site.  ”Without the exchanges, the death spiral seems almost assured.”

But the exchanges need some time to sign people up–they aren’t going to sign up 7 million people in a day. Basically, says McArdle, by November 15 they

really need to be running at full speed, to handle the crush of applications sure to come between Thanksgiving and the mid-December deadline for buying insurance that starts in January.

If they aren’t running full speed by then, it’s in Obama’s interest to “hit the reset button and try again next year,” rather than spend 2014 circling the drain in the spiral of doom.

Instant implications: 1) Do we really want to pivot to immigration after if the debt ceiling crisis is resolved? How about pivoting to resolving the Obamacare crisis? 2) Is Obama fending off the GOP demand that he delay Obamacare so that he can delay it himself later this year? 3) If Republicans can keep the shutdown going*** for another month, will they get what they want — a delay in Obamacare — in a way that makes it look as if they had wrested it from Obama? (Don’t tell them). …..

[Thanks to @ByronYork for the tip]

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**–Would have written that weeks ago, but didn’t want to jinx.

***–As of this writing, the House could, for example, pass a clean debt ceiling extension while leaving the shutdown in effect.