Polling suggests that two thirds of Americans want to see all or part of the Affordable Care Act thrown out by the Supreme Court, the most unpopular provision being the individual mandate.
Many of these are, of course, Republicans whose opposition is mostly mindless: They’re against it on principle because, well, it was pushed by President Obama and a Democratic Congress and that’s enough in itself. The rest are among the 31% of Americans who even after two years still seem to have no clue what’s in the bill according to the Pew Research Center. And this includes many who would benefit the most from the law, as highlighted by the New York Times.
It is simply mind-boggling to have that much ignorance in the country on a major piece of legislation that will benefit all of us in one way or another two years after it was enacted.
Particularly troubling is the extent of opposition to the individual mandate even as other polling shows strong support from many of the same people for keeping popular provisions such as barring insurance companies from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. Which begs the question: Do these Americans actually understand how insurance works?
For example, would we compel an automobile insurance company to take on an uninsured motorist who’s just had a prang and then expect them to pay for the damage? Of course not; so how can we require a medical insurance firm to do likewise for a willfully uninsured individual who has just discovered he’s ill. And if we did, what the heck would happen to our insurance premiums? Yes, they’d skyrocket and, furthermore, such a mandate would drive most insurance companies entirely out of the individual market quicker than you can say “pre-existing condition”. And this isn’t guesswork either. We have empirical evidence from states who tried it, including my own state of Washington.
The Affordable Care Act is our last chance to reform the private medical insurance market to make it work for all of us, not just for the industry. And the individual mandate is the pillar which supports the rest of it. Don’t be fooled by the plethora of articles from those who suggest that much of the law’s provisions will survive without it – they won’t.
If two thirds of Americans truly oppose the individual mandate, then two thirds of Americans are idiots, although as Greg Sargent explains in The Washington Post most of them will never know what they missed.