This morning in my local newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a headline spoke volumes to me:
"Fewer State Kids are Uninsured."
Minnesota's transition to life under the Affordable Care Act has been smoother than many, albeit by no means easy. We have a good share of bugs in the on-line enrollment system. But unlike many states, we opted for a state-managed system early on, modeling it somewhat along the lines of Massachusett's long-standing system. Hence, we've avoided the debacle of the federal system, and are well on our way to a workable process.
There have been a good many complaints, of course, not the least of which is that costs to individuals very widely, depending on where you live within the state and on the nature of the insurance you currently held. I know of a few people whom will likely have to unwillingly change from private insurance to the pool system. And some folks who live in outstate regions pay considerably more than similar folks in metro areas, since the size of the pool is notably smaller in smaller communities. It's not an ideal rollout of the healthcare system, at all. But these people seem to be outweighed by the people who seem more or less pleased by the rates and the quality of policy that will be seeing in the new system. I have friends who had been privately insuring who tell me that their transition to the new pool will be quite beneficial. But the real advantage is in headlines like this one:
"Fewer State Kids Are Uninsured"
Minnesota is not a large state in terms of population, and it's true that even now, some 68,000 kids remain without health insurance. But it's a demonstrable fact 16,000 kids more kids have health insurance today who didn't have it a year ago, before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. Projections say that we'll cut into this by similar margins over the next three years.
I by no means suggest that Obamacare is perfect, or even that it's a good system. It's far from good. With legitimate bi-partisan collaboration, we'd sure have winded up with something far, far better. But at a time when prevailing practice and legislation seemed heartlessly unwilling to bring any kind of regulation or control to health care costs, surely this has to be better than the alternative headlines we were headed to.
Even the reasonable critics of Obamacare must see some virtue to a reversal of annual headlines reading "More Kids Uninsured."