Making the ACA work

Getting on board with Obamacare will be good for you and the country

There were some computer glitches during the kickoff of the Affordable Care Act last week, including in Butte County, and that led cynics to question whether Obamacare would ever work. As the Chico Enterprise-Record editorialized, “If opening day was too much for Obamacare, we wonder what the days and years will bring.”

That snide comment, and others like it, ignored the sheer volume of people—tens of millions nationwide—calling in and going online to check out their options for affordable policies on the new health insurance exchanges. The level of interest was unprecedented.

It was assumed that a program this big would have glitches, but that they would be ironed out over time. Cathi Grams, director of the Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services, is now able to report that all of her customer-service employees have access to the state website and can help callers.

Obamacare needs to enroll healthy young people who can subsidize less healthy older ones, so its success will depend on whether young people sign up in sufficient numbers. By law they are required to do so—that’s the “individual mandate”—and will face a fine at tax time if they don’t comply, though the amount is less than the cost of the policies.

The good news is that most young people will be eligible for subsidies, and there are several low-cost, high-deductible policies that will insure them against the kinds of catastrophes—accidents, drug overdoses, serious illnesses—to which they are vulnerable. Even though they may rarely need to see a doctor, they still can end up in the hospital with serious problems.

The deadline for enrollment for 2014 is March 1. If you’re one of the thousands of uninsured in Butte County, go online and check out your options. Get behind the Affordable Care Act. It will be good for you—and for America.