Peter Suderman on How Obama Relied on False Hope to Sell Obamacare

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Whitehouse.gov

When the October launch of Obamacare's online insurance portals went disastrously awry, the Obama administration had a handy communications strategy ready: Distract people with false hope. On October 21, as the online federal exchange system at the heart of President Obama's health law entered its third week of widespread failures, the president gave a televised speech in which he admitted that there were "kinks in the system," but also insisted that the exchange problems could be worked around, because the online insurance portals weren't the only way to enroll in coverage. "While the website will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace, it isn't the only way," he said. "I want to emphasize this….you can still buy the same quality affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way, offline—either over the phone or in person." The application process, Obama said, would only take about 25 minutes for an individual. As workarounds go, it was appealing enough. But, writes Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman, it was also basically useless. 

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