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Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:46 a.m.

Fears & hopes: Is 'Obamacare' here to stay?

By Wayne Baker

Thumbnail image for 1109 Passing of Affordable Healthcare bill in 2010.jpg
Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing fears and hopes about the election.

One of Romney’s pledges was to repeal Obamacare — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama signed into law in 2010. The constitutionality of this sweeping reform was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, as we’ve discussed before. Now, with Obama’s reelection, is Obamacare locked in? Or, is repeal still possible?

Fears and hopes have been our topics this week. We’ve considered monster storm Sandy and similar natural disasters, Election Day communion, the proliferation of ballot initiatives, and what changing demographics tell us about this and future elections. Today, we consider what may prove to be Obama’s signature legacy—the healthcare reform law that has come to bear his name.

There are lots of provisions to the law. A few went into effect immediately, while most will come online year by year. The last provision becomes effective on January 1, 2020. That’s beyond Obama’s second term. But most of the provisions will be in effect before he leaves office.

This means the law will be almost fully institutionalized by the end of his second term. All sorts of support structures, like insurance exchanges, will be up and running. More and more Americans will personally benefit from the law.

Already dependent children can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26. Insurers can’t exclude pre-existing conditions for children under age 19. Insurers can’t drop you if you become sick.

As an expanding number of Americans benefit, they will come to perceive the “moral correctness” of the law, which adds considerable legitimacy to it and decrease the chances they would support tampering with the law. And, politically, it would be too costly to unwind the law and replace it with something else. Obamacare is here to stay.

Have you personally benefited from the law?

Are you glad it's here to stay?

What fears and hopes do you have about it?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

I personally think that the "feasibility" factor seems to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - based mainly on statements of people living in countries which have this kind of health care law. But "the moral rightness" isn't the only factor supporting the PP&AC act. The fact is: the present ( soon to be "old") system is really a study in economics where a serious imbalance exists: the price is too high for too many. Because medical care is considered a necessity in the Western World, (and who's to argue when most of the world doesn't have adequate medical care and people suffer thereby?). So the myth that says The Free Market (of unregulated supply and demand) always works without problems is proven false BY THE EXISTENCE of this imbalance. IF the Unregulated Free Market worked as claimed, then no imbalance would exist in such a crucial-to-all area. The Unregulated Free Market works very well when (a) there's no inability to afford the "product", it hasn't been priced out of reach and (b) when everyone IN the Unregulated Free Market is operating honestly. The claim made by insurance companies that they make health care affordable is demonstrably untrue: if health care was affordable, there would be no need for private collectives like (profit-making) insurance companies. The greatest good for the greatest number is the slogan of communist ideology. Correct me if that's wrong - if that doesn't apply to private as well as public interest. The best thing about the PP&AC act is that it takes into account the "profit motive" and is aimed at regulating greed on the supply side. It's still not because it ASSUMES that moral good is the basis for establishing the plan without first establishing the facts about the existing un-affordability of health care. Somewhere the system is broken and it's pretty easily proved it lies on the supply side of our supply and demand system.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

I personally hope that we can institute a universal, single payer system. If this is a step in that direction, I am hopeful. It seems that Obamacare is somewhere in between this and what we had before. I think most people like most of the provisions of Obamacare with the exception of the individual mandate (which I am also not fond of, but I understand why it is a necessary evil with the pre-existing conditions clause). While the difference between the individual mandate and a universal single-payer system might seem small in practice, I think on principle it is different to have a system that is paid into by all via taxation than an individual mandate to buy a private product. The biggest key, of course, is figuring out how to get healthcare costs down in general. Because preventative care is so much cheaper than fixing problems after they arise, I am hopeful that anything getting people into the doctor earlier and more often will reduce costs overall. My general outlook is that healthcare should not be a for-profit institution. Obamacare does not fix that concern, but it is at least a step in the right direction.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

bdb11: Considering the existing "for profit" system skims at least 20% profit off the top (from the misery of other Americans) and Medicare operates at 3-5% overhead, that looks like a 15% savings simply going the single payer route. I agree, why do we have a system that profits from the suffering and misery of American. Everyone else on the planet has figured this out. Greed is a powerful master.