From the Left



Obamacare is Sick, But Worth Fixing

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Unfortunately, now that we can see actual price menus, we can see in many cases that insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays are rising. But, after decades of rising rates and reduced benefits, as well as rising health care costs, it's hard to tell how much of the increase would have happened anyway.

For the most part, Obamacare opens up competition that, if free market principles work as they should, will reduce the rises in cost. As The New Republic's health care specialist Jonathan Cohn notes, overall premiums have been lower than expected for "a product ... that in most places insurers never offered before."

Yet the program's relative success in those states that operate their own websites indicates that it mostly is at the federal level that officials bit off a bigger techno task than they could chew.

As numerous Internet startups have demonstrated, starting out smaller is better. The website was produced by 55 contractors working on a system that passes information back and forth between other systems and agencies, plus the private insurance industry, which brings to mind the old saying about too many chefs spoiling the gumbo.

Republican opponents predictably conclude from the website's meltdown that the law itself is bad. Yet important glimmers of hope can be found in the 14 states that opted to operate their own online marketplaces. They've experienced much less grief than the feds.


As the Jan. 1 deadline approaches for Obamacare coverage to go into effect, the law, like the federal website, needs more work. But it's worth the effort.


E-mail Clarence Page at





John Cole John Branch Taylor Jones Christopher Weyant Pat Bagley Marshall Ramsey