My post on why the ACA will become popular was too long and confusing. Shorter me:
The phrase “individual mandate,” though it explained to wonks how we were going to achieve near-universal coverage, was always bound to make for atrocious framing. Pairing it with a subsidy is great policy but possibly even worse framing. Now one thing people don’t like—being told by the government what to do—is supposed to be made better by another thing they don’t like—admitting they need government help.
Here is another way of describing ACA that’s completely accurate but explains the point much better:
“If you or your family aren’t getting health insurance through your job, the government will pay to get you private insurance coverage, just as an employer would. You’ll have to contribute something—but the law guarantees, with specific numbers, that it will be no more than you can afford. It’ll be less than three percent of your paycheck if your family makes $33,000 a year, less than ten percent if you make as much as $88,000. Pre-existing conditions won’t matter. The government will still pay for your insurance, with the same affordable contribution from you.”
The bill has lots more—things that make it even better. But that, it seems to me, is the basic idea. And if we drill it in, people (Fox News junkies aside) will stop imagining that the bill is somehow about government telling people without insurance that they have to get it because the government won’t help them. It’s the opposite. Under ACA, it’s the government’s job to get you insurance, and to pay for almost all of it if you can’t afford it. Before, you were on your own.
Objections? Can we sink the “mandate” language once and for all? And can anyone explain to me whether (or why) anybody ever though “individual mandate” sounded good politically?