Since the Affordable Care Act’s (a.k.a. ObamaCare’s) individual mandate went into effect at the beginning of the year, almost all Americans now have direct experience with the law and its repercussions. Whether you love it or hate it, ObamaCare is still surrounded by a host of myths and misconceptions, and while few would admit that the legislation is perfect, we can only begin to address ObamaCare’s actual flaws by debunking the myths surrounding it.
Myth 1: ObamaCare is Socialism
“Socialism” is an umbrella term that covers a wide ranging collection of political and economic philosophies, but as it is broadly understood by most people, socialism is taken to mean a government take over of business as practiced by the former USSR. ObamaCare does not fall into this category. While ObamaCare creates a series of rules and regulations stipulating what insurance plans must provide, who must have them, and who must pay for them, this is similar to other laws regulating private industry. Similar pieces of legislation have governed American business for nearly a century.
Myth 2: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
President Obama’s famous proclamation was PolitiFact’s 2013 Lie of the Year. As PolitiFact notes, this is a promise that President Obama could never keep. Because ObamaCare represents government regulation of health care, and not a government take over, President Obama could never guarantee that a health plan would continue to be available.
Myth 3: ObamaCare leads to layoffs, and a reduction in employment hours.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) argued that ObamaCare would force companies to layoff full-time employees or convert them to part-time employees, and cut back the number of hours available to part-time employees in order to side-step the law’s requirement that employees working more than 30 hours per week must be provided health insurance by employers who have 50 or more employees. According to FactCheck.org, however, the RNC based this statement on the number of Americans working part-time, and unable to find full-time work “for economic reasons.” Since we are still in a recovering economy, blaming ObamaCare is a bit of a stretch.
Myth 4: The ObamaCare website failed solely due to the number of people seeking insurance.
Following initial problems with healthcare.gov, the federal portal for those seeking insurance, President Obama claimed that those problems were due to the number of people trying to sign up for health insurance plans through the portal, but this is not true. According to the Washington Post, despite a massive failure in pre-launch testing, the healthcare.gov went online on schedule, and unwary consumers were given no warning.
Myth 5: Most Americans Oppose ObamaCare
When asked about their feelings on ObamaCare, most Americans respond negatively, but when polled about individual provisions of the health care law, most Americans respond to most of those provisions favorably according to a Reuter’s/Ipsos poll.
ObamaCare is the most significant domestic legislation in decades, and it’s prone to inspire fiercely divided opinions. If we are to have an honest, meaningful, and productive debate about the effects of the law, and how to improve it in the future, though, we must learn to look past the partisan myths that have dictated the ObamaCare conversation.