There's something about Obamacare that really shines a light on the stupid. And by that I mean stupid politicians, stupid "experts," and even regular – but stupid - Americans. And in case you missed it, the last few weeks have presented us, and the presidential candidates, with more solid evidence of ACA-related stupidity than usual. Let's look at the top three contenders on the Obamacare Stupid Bowl '16:
First, we now know that Obamacare enrollment has fallen short by 24 million people. The real number of enrolled Americans in ACA plans is 11.1 million. Making matters worse is the fact that a major chunk of the people not signing up are the younger and healthier Americans the ACA's architects were foolishly relying on to help absorb the costs from older and sicker enrollees. This is the continuing development that many call the "Obamacare Death Spiral."
Second, so many Insurance companies are curtailing their participation in Obamacare exchanges that 31 percent of U.S. counties are likely to have just one insurance company option for health coverage by next year. That's what we call a monopoly. And in case you don't know how dangerous monopolies can be in health care, Google the words "Mylan" and "EpiPen" when you get a chance.
Third, and getting back to the weak enrollment numbers, this summer we learned that one of the biggest reasons people are refusing to sign up for Obamacare is… they want to keep smoking. The higher surcharges and premiums for smokers are discouraging people, especially young people, from enrolling in ACA plans. And, it turns out that these higher costs aren't encouraging them to quit smoking either. Oh, and there's also still evidence that a decent percentage of people who do sign up for Obamacare who say they're not smokers are lying. This last one is a triple dose of stupid all on its own.
The stupid response from our two leading presidential candidates has been predictable and constant. Donald Trump keeps promising to repeal Obamacare, but he offers no further specifics. This is stupid, especially for a candidate who's otherwise been pretty good at focusing on one single aspect of a policy he doesn't like and also making clear, (if questionable), promises about what he'd do to change them. Hillary Clinton is barely talking about Obamacare at all.