The ranks of the uninsured continued to grow last year according to Gallup. Their poll found that 17.1 percent of adults did not have health insurance in 2011, which is a significant increase from the 16.4 percent in 2010. From Gallup:
The drop in the number of insured people is mainly the result of the large increase in the number of unemployed/underemployed adults and long term trends. The rapidly rising cost of health care over the past several decades has contributed to a long term trend of fewer and fewer companies offering health insurance to their employees. The economic downturn has only accelerated this trend.
This strong increase in the number of uninsured since President Obama took office is not the fault of his signature Affordable Care Act, but it does highlight what an historically bad unforced political error the design of the law was. The Act’s major increase in insurance coverage was delayed until 2014, over a year after Obama’s expected re-election, purely to make it appear cheaper in the initial years. As a result Obama will need to defend his signature law to expand health insurance, while dealing with the fact that the uninsured problem has gotten significantly worse since he signed the law over a year ago.
The “I know things have only gotten worse, but trust me, my plan to fix the problem should eventually start helping” is a terrible campaign message.
If the Obama team truly believes that ACA is good idea, then this decision was beyond idiotic. It is truly mindboggling that everyone in the Obama administration convinced themselves that a lower CBO score but no coverage expansion before the re-election was much smarter politics than a higher CBO score but coverage expansion before November 2012.
The Democrats’ terrible handling of the health care reform debate in 2009-2010 should be remembered as one of the greatest acts of political malpractice in modern American history.