McArdle: Obamacare is beyond rescue

by Ryan Streeter on January 22, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Megan McArdle sums it up:

Obamacare has so far fallen dramatically short of what was expected — technically, and in almost every other way. Enrollment is below expectations: According to the data we have so far, more than half of the much-touted Medicaid expansion came from people who were already eligible before the health-care law passed, and this weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the overwhelming majority of people buying insurance through the exchanges seem to be folks who already had insurance. Coverage is less generous than many people expected, with narrower provider networks and higher deductibles. The promised $2,500 that the average family was told they could save on premiums has predictably failed to materialize. And of course, we now know that if you like your doctor and plan, there is no reason to think you can keep them. Which is one reason the law has not gotten any more popular since it passed.

The administration and its supporters have been counting on the coverage expansion to put Obamacare beyond repeal. So what if the coverage expansion is anemic, the plans bare-bones, the website sort of a disaster?

This follows  yesterday’s WSJ editorial, which makes similar points. Despite the arguments made by Obamacare’s advocates that things are getting better, the editors point out that the pure math of the law’s flawed policy has already set events in motion:

Insurance policies plunge into a “death spiral” when premiums don’t cover the cost of claims, causing rates to surge year over year and more and more beneficiaries to drop coverage. This “adverse selection” already appears to be underway in eight states including Maryland, Washington, Ohio, Texas and Indiana.