Facts on the Ground

The other big thing that’s happening tomorrow, of course, other than an increasingly certain federal government shutdown of uncertain duration, is the opening day for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance purchasing exchanges.

Despite conservative efforts to discourage Americans (particularly young and health Americans) from buying health insurance under Obamacare, Gallup finds that about two-thirds of the uninsured say they will comply rather than doing without insurance and also risking fines. Just under half of the uninsured say they plan to use the exchanges. But an astonishing 51% of the uninsured are “not at all familiar” with the exchanges, and another 21% are “not too familiar.” Those numbers are going to change quickly, and so, too, will the numbers of those planning to use the exchanges (and take advantage of the tax subsidies available to those with incomes under 400% of the poverty line), and those understanding their lives just got better.

It will take some time before we know exactly how viable the Affordable Care Act is going to be in the long run. But in the short term, the facts on the ground are very likely to shift in the law’s favor even as conservatives shriek about its path of destruction, which is why Obama and congressional Democrats aren’t about to make concessions that affect its immediate implementation.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.