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What does ObamaCare actually do? Hell if I know.

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I was having lunch with a friend yesterday. He's a whopping young-30-something, and was telling me how Aetna just turned him down for health insurance because of his "pre-existing conditions." Not wanting to pry (did he have cancer or HIV, I wondered?), but feeling there was a story here, I risked prying just a little. Turns out he has a bad shoulder, exczema, allergies, and a fourth equally benign thing I can't now recall.

How can this be, I thought - doesn't ObamaCare get rid of pre-existing conditions?

I dunno. Do you?

I don't know a single thing that the President's health care reform actually does, did or will do. It does something with pre-existing conditions, some day, somewhere. And some day there will be those exchanges, or something, where only a few of us can buy insurance or something, and I guess it will be cheaper (though I wouldn't dare touch an exchange, and leave my current insurance, until I know for sure they're not going to repealed - otherwise, good luck going back to my old insurance).

Oh, there is one thing the law does, I now know - and this is only because my CareFirst BCBS premium went down 10% this year.  I learned that there's a 80% floor on how much of your premium needs to be spent on actually health care provision (or something like that). But I only learned the details on that when my BCBS premium went down and I tried to find out why (BCBS won't admit why, though they told a reader it's because of ObamaCare).

What does health care reform actually do? I'll bet most of you have no idea, other than what I listed above, but even then you're murky on the details.

I wrote, during the health care debate, that the Obama administration needed to explain to people how health care reform was going to decrease their premiums and increase their benefits. Period. It seems it may have caused my premiums to go down, but no one can confirm it. (Had this been the GOP law that may have caused some premiums to go down, they'd already been claiming credit.)

With all that in mind, I'm not surprised that 47% of the American people think health care reform should be repealed. They have no idea what's in it. Remember this Newsweek poll from two years ago?

When asked about Obama's plan (without being given any details about what the legislation includes), 49 percent opposed it and 40 percent were in favor. But after hearing key features of the legislation described, 48 percent supported the plan and 43 percent remained opposed.

The NEWSWEEK Poll asked respondents about eight health-care-reform provisions that Obama and many Democrats in Congress have generally supported. It found that the majority of Americans supported five of those provisions, three by particularly large margins. Eighty-one percent agreed with the creation of a new insurance marketplace, the exchange, for individual subscribers to compare plans and buy insurance at a competitive rate. Seventy-six percent thought health insurers should be required to cover anyone who applies, including those with preexisting conditions; and 75 percent agreed with requiring most businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, with incentives for small-business owners to do so.

People like health care reform when you don't call it health care reform.  Sigh.

We hear from the GOP presidential candidates, practically every day, about how bad ObamaCare is. They claim it's going to cost a trillion dollars. That too is a lie. In fact, not only is health care reform paid for, repealing health care reform will up the deficit by $230bn over the next ten years, according to CBO. But you don't hear the Republicans (nor the media) talking about that little inconvenient fact.

I realize the President wants to focus on jobs for his re-election, but at what expense? I don't think he can afford, we can afford, this ongoing unwillingness to defend the work he's already done. If this was his signature goal and achievement of his first term, he ought to own it. Or people will continue to believe the Republicans when they say that it was all a big socialist waste of a trillion bucks, a typical Democrats spending spree on nothing (cf. the GOP lie that the stimulus didn't work, which the public also believes).

At some point, Democrats have to realize that the message wars matter, and you need to start fighting them now if you want expect to win later.

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