Peter Suderman on Obamacare's Continuing Glitches


Obamacare, you may have heard, is working just fine. "It turns out it's working pretty well in the real world," President Obama said of the health law in a speech at a fundraiser last week.

If so, the public hasn't caught on yet. A new poll from the Associated Press finds that just 31 percent of the public approve of the way the president is handling health care.

Obama's fellow Democrats aren't exactly enthusiastic either. Just 36 percent of Democrats campaigning for Congress this year have explicitly supported the health care law, according to research by a pair of scholars at the Brookings Institution. This is the party that passed the law and is home to virtually all its political support—and yet a majority won't fully stand by the law in public.

Why not? Perhaps because the evidence for its success is so underwhelming. It's true that the worst-case scenarios that seemed plausible last year, when the exchange system crashed, failed to occur, and also the law has posted some successes in recent weeks: low premium growth, 7.3 million paid enrollments, an increase in insurer participation in the exchanges.

But the law has also continued to generate a steady stream of bad news—more glitches, more failures, more misfires, more unhappy providers and customers, with more challenges on the way as the second open enrollment period begins. And even the success stories are not quite as positive as the headlines make them out to be.