[R]ecent enrollment data shows that the mandate is working. The exact type of people the requirement was meant to target -- young, healthy adults who might forgo coverage were it not for a government fine -- signed up in record numbers this year. Having a decent number of young and health people in the insurance pool is integral to making costs affordable for everyone, which is exactly why the mandate exists in the first place. And architects of Obamacare's enrollment strategy say that talking about the mandate -- something Obamacare supporters didn't really start doing until 2015 -- has been core to making it work.
The Affordable Care Act's enrollment totals this year are not only excellent, they're also exceeding projections and last year's tallies. Sarah Kliff explained yesterday that the individual mandate -- the policy Republicans embraced until President Obama agreed with them -- is doing exactly what it was intended to do, which helps explain the encouraging data.
The result is a system that's working according to plan. A lot of younger consumers -- the kind of folks who tend to be healthier -- want to avoid the penalty of going without coverage, so they're doing exactly what the ACA's architects hoped they'd do: they're buying insurance.
This, in turn, boosts enrollment totals, which lowers the uninsured rate, which helps keep costs down, which strengthens the financial health of the overall health care system.
Paul Krugman added the other day, "One of the remarkable aspects of the politics of health reform is the way conservatives -- even relatively mild, seemingly informed conservatives -- have managed to keep believing that Obamacare is unraveling, despite the repeated failure of disaster predictions to come true. Part of the way this works is that captive media and the right's pet 'experts' hype every bit of bad news, but go silent when the news is good (and, often, when the bad news turns out to have been a false alarm.) How many will even hear about the news that enrollments are once again running above expectations, and the pool is getting younger?"
As for the near future, ACA Signups Guru Charles Gaba projects enrollment totals to reach 14.7 million when all is said and done -- at which point congressional Republicans will probably want to talk about anything other than Obamacare's success. Maybe the GOP's Bengahzi committee will hold a hearing or something to change the subject.