Alaska Notebook: The question is, will Obamacare work?

October 3, 2013 

What works

The real test of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, isn't going on in Washington, D.C. The real test wasn't even in its vote of passage in 2010, or in the Supreme Court's rulings or President Obama's re-election campaign.

The real test is beginning now on desktops and tablets and in phone calls across the United States. And whether or not Obamacare passes the test depends on the answer to that classic, practical American question: "Does it work?"

Will millions of Americans gain satisfactory -- or at least halfway decent -- health care coverage that they can't get now? Will the long waits and glitches current on the health care exchange sites soon ease? Will all of this happen without huge increases in premium costs across the board? Will we be better off -- physically, mentally, economically?

Alaskans and most other Americans like some of the provisions that came with Obamacare -- no exclusion for pre-existing conditions, the chance to keep kids on their parents' insurance longer. But now we're getting deeper into new territory -- mandatory purchase or penalties, what it's going to cost in both private and public dollars. What you pay and what you get, and how sustainable it is for individuals, families and the public treasury.

Adding to the sense of heading into the unknown is the fact that Obamacare feels like both a done deal and a work in progress, amendments still to come. Whatever devils lurk in its details, Obamacare isn't going to destroy America. At this point, it looks more like a test of patience. One way or another, the American people will still make the final call.

-- Frank Gerjevic

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