- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama launched a marketing blitz this week in an attempt to get back some public support for his health care law and salvage his legacy.

The problem with his plan is that Americans’ overwhelming dislike of Obamacare stems from finally finding out how big of a disaster it is for their families. No fancy public relations campaign can change reality. 

The White House is planning a daily event from now until Christmas to sell the supposed benefits of Obamacare. The president wrongly thinks that the past two months of disastrous press and plummeting poll numbers were all a result of the broken Healthcare.gov website.

“Now that the website is working for the vast majority of people, we need to make sure that folks refocus on what’s at stake here,” Mr. Obama said on Tuesday after “real people” told their positive health care stories.

“I need you to spread the word about the law, about its benefits, about its protections, about how folks can sign up.”

His Wednesday event was geared toward persuading young people to enroll in the exchanges. He desperately needs them to balance out the high cost of older and sick people for the whole scheme to work. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the millennials have already turned against him. 

A Harvard Institute of Politics poll released on the morning of the White House event showed a majority of Americans aged 18 to 29 disapprove of the Affordable Care Act. Even worse, just 25 percent of uninsured millennials plan to enroll in Obamacare.

Why? While Mr. Obama promised that health care costs would go down under his law, only 10 percent of young adults think that will happen. 

Mr. Obama lost a big chunk of this “hope and change” base by foisting this government-centered health care law on them. His job-approval rating among millennials has fallen to the lowest level ever (41 percent), and an astounding 47 percent want to recall him from office. 

Glaringly missing from the president’s pep rallies has been any fact related to enrollment numbers, how to deal with those who have been kicked off their health insurance plans or the unbalanced risk pool that will drive up deductibles and the cost of premiums. 

Instead, Mr. Obama focuses on anecdotal stories about the parts of Obamacare that have already been implemented, such as letting young adults stay on their parents’ plans till age 26, “free” preventive care and a ban on lifetime caps on coverage.

“He’s emphasizing the things that have gone well, which have all been in the hands of the insurers and not the government,” Joseph Antos, a health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told me in an interview.

“He is trying to avoid making promises that aren’t true. He doesn’t mention the things that are bothering people — lost insurance plans, higher costs and assurance they will have coverage on Jan. 1.” 

Millions of people have been kicked off their insurance plans because of the new requirements that all plans have additional benefits, including costly mental health, habilitative services and prescription drugs. Individuals are no longer able to choose a plan in the New Year that does not include these pricey items.

Mr. Antos thinks that the low number of young people signing up for Obamacare will result in an “unstable insurance market” in 2014.

To make up for their losses, he predicts that, “The insurance companies will raise their premiums in 2015 by at least 25 percent or 30 percent, deductibles will rise and access to doctors will fall.”

Americans are understandably frightened about the quality and cost of their health care now that they’re seeing firsthand the impact of Obamacare.

Mr. Obama thinks a flashy campaign will trick Americans into focusing on the small-ticket items that affected very few and ignore the big-ticket items in the present and future that affect everyone. They should not fall for the obvious attempt at deception. 

Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and  author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).

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