One Point on Obamacare Implementation

I have a post up at Plum Line about a familiar topic to regular readers here — that Affordable Care Act polling now is unlikely to predict much about how people will react to the law once it’s implemented.

I’ll add one more point, however. There’s a possible press bias involved which might help the ACA. For the most part, the people who are helped the most the Obamacare — people who did not have health insurance, wanted it, and will be able to get it through the exchanges, in many cases with subsidies that really will make it affordable — are not opinion leaders. There’s one exception, however: freelance political reporters, bloggers, and columnists should be big winners from the ACA, and can make a fair amount of noise.

Now, of course, if Obamacare really does turn out to be a disaster, that won’t matter much — indeed, if full-time employees of large newspapers and magazines wind up losing insurance and the exchanges are difficult to navigate and deliver an inferior product, then the press will collectively wind up turning against the program. But if that’s the case, it won’t really matter, because everyone will hate ACA if it’s an across-the-board disaster.

I’ve talked before about another bias which should hurt Obamacare approval after implementation; the press tends to have a bad news bias, in which things functioning smoothly is boring and therefore not news, while glitches and snafus make for good stories. And we’ve already seen, and should see more of Republicans blaming anything that ever goes wrong with anyone’s health care or insurance on Barack Obama and the Democrats. So I have no idea how big a deal this counter-bias might be, but it’s at least worth a little mention as implementation continues.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.