Jack Kelly: The Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable

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"Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” said the Greek playwright Euripedes (484-407 BC).

Euripedes could have been thinking of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Ms. Pelosi held a news conference last week. to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The law is a “winner” for Democrats, who are “standing tall” in support of it, she said.

“Pelosi’s celebratory event in the Capitol on Thursday -- ahead of Sunday’s anniversary – stood in stark contrast to the muted embrace from other congressional Democrats,” said CNN.

She scolded a reporter who referred to it as “Obamacare.”

“It’s the Affordable Care Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Affordable Care Act,” she said over and over.

Obamacare is anything but affordable. Health insurance premiums are 39 percent higher this year for individual policies, 56 percent higher for family policies, on average, than they were last year, according to a cost report from eHealthInsurance, a nationwide online private insurance exchange.

Average premiums increased 37 percent for individual plans, 31 percent for family plans between 2005 and 2013, eHealthInsurance data indicate. The premium hikes this year are greater than the premium increases for the last eight years combined.

They’re a pittance compared to what Obamacare has in store for next year.

“Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country,” The Hill newspaper reported March 19.

Premiums will skyrocket chiefly because enrollment is far below what’s needed to make Obamacare economically viable, and too many of those who are signing up are old and sick.

When a reporter asked Ms. Pelosi about the premium hikes, she left the podium without responding.

Ms. Pelosi insists upon calling Obamacare the “Affordable Care Act,” when it plainly isn’t, because Democrats rely on deception to shield them from the voters’ wrath in the midterm elections.

She may not be honest, but she is consistent. Everything Democrats promised about Obamacare has been false.

*Thousands of Americans -- many of them seriously ill -- have learned that no, they may not keep their doctor if they want to.

*Obamacare will reduce health insurance premiums for the typical American family by $2,500, the president said. The average family will pay $2,844 more this year, according to eHealthInsurance.

*Obamacare will create 4 million new jobs, Ms. Pelosi predicted before it was passed. Obamacare will force them to cut the hours of their workers or lay people off, said half the small business owners polled last year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In politics, perception is reality, because people vote on the basis of how they think things are, not on how they actually may be.

So Democrats treat every problem as a “messaging” problem. Truth is what the people believe. Confident their friends in the news media never will call them on it, Democrats think they can lie with impunity.

President Obama won re-election by portraying Mitt Romney “as a heartless, woman-hating one percenter,” so their confidence in “messaging” is understandable, noted Eric Felten in the Weekly Standard.

“Messaging” worked then because “few voters have any direct and meaningful contact with candidates,” Mr. Felten said.

But when people have firsthand knowledge of the reality being spun, “messaging” loses effectiveness. The cancer patient who lost her doctor, the worker whose hours have been cut, the family whose health insurance premium has soared won’t be mollified by spin.

The administration is spending $17 million a month of taxpayer money on ads to entice young people to sign up for Obamacare. But nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising, Mr. Felten said.

“The more people those ever-so-clever ads send to the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the more people will discover that the plans involve radically limited choices of doctors and hospitals, gob-smacking deductibles, and, for many, dismaying premiums,” he said.

Democrats have an Obamacare problem. The longer they treat it as a “messaging” problem, the more likely they’re headed for an epic thrashing in November.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Pittsburgh Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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