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Opinion: Editorials

National Editorial: Selling Obamacare to balky buyers

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Opinion,Editorial

There is an important paragraph in an Associated Press dispatch by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar that appeared last weekend. It pointed to something President Obama and his strategists have sought to do since day one of their ultimately successful campaign to win congressional passage of Obamacare: "Administration officials say they see an opportunity to change the national debate about health care. They want to get away from shouting matches about the role of government and start millions of practical conversations about new benefits that can help families and individuals."

Of course the Obama White House would like to get away from debates about "the role of government," because that's always been the issue at the heart of opposition to the program. A steadily growing majority of Americans simply don't trust the federal government, so it's no surprise that three years after Obamacare became the law of the land, most Americans still profess either outright opposition or fear that it will cause their health care quality to go down and their costs to go up.

What makes that paragraph doubly interesting, however, is that it appeared in a news report describing the Obama administration's marketing research and development for selling Obamacare as Jan. 1, 2014 draws ever closer. That's when the program goes fully into effect, including the individual mandate, the state insurance exchanges and all the rest of what promises to be the biggest bureaucratic monstrosity in American history.

Two groups are of particular concern to the Obamacare marketers, including the "Healthy and Young," who make up 48 percent of the uninsured, and the "Sick, Active and Worried," who account for 29 percent. The former are the least likely to need or seek health insurance coverage, but their enrollment is critical because their premium payments help keep costs down. The latter are baby boomers and Gen Xers who need a lot of health care either now or in the near future, and they are most worried about their premiums going up.

They are right to worry about that, as seen in the nonpartisan Society of Actuaries study released last week that projects cost increases averaging 32 percent nationwide. As Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put it in a recent Senate speech, "Those costs will be passed onto those who buy insurance on the individual market in the form of dramatically higher premiums. ... Medical cost increases in my home state of Kentucky could be as high as 34 percent. In states such as Wisconsin and Ohio, the actuaries predict an 80 percent increase. This will be a crushing financial blow to hardworking families across the country who are just scraping by as it is."

Spiraling premium costs surely won't sit well with the millions of Americans who believed the Obama promise that "if you like your present health insurance coverage, you can keep it." If the White House marketers are honest, they will call this group the "Tired of Being Deceived."

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