Obamacare was sold to the American people as the answer to the alleged problem of millions of uninsured. The assumption was that those millions wanted insurance but couldn’t afford it. That was an unwarranted assumption since the bulk of the uninsured are healthy and young, thus disinclined to spend much on something they think they don’t need.
The reason for the high cost of health insurance for those young and healthy was the severe mandates imposed on insurance companies by state governments. These required health insurance policies to provide certain coverages in all policies that meant no one young and healthy could buy a bare bones policy to cover them only for catastrophic illness or accident which would have been much cheaper. Those people could have been easier persuaded to buy insurance if that had been possible and they would have been covered for the very things that most of us cannot be expected to afford on our own. They would have saved enough money to pay for their own routine care and the problem of millions of uninsured would have been largely solved.
The reason this is not attractive to politicians is because it requires them to do less, not more. Politicians doing too much had already destroyed the concept of “guaranteed renewable and non-cancelable until age 65,” which used to exist in the insurance market. Forty years ago a young healthy person could buy a good health insurance policy at an affordable price and be guaranteed they could keep it until age 65. Any future premium increases were limited to those for the entire class of healthy people in their age group. If they got cancer or some other catastrophic illness their insurance coverage was guaranteed to them until age 65 and their premium would never be raised because of their illness. That was a good deal created by a free market operating without government interference. It was sold to young people because it was a deal they could get only if they bought a policy while young and healthy and kept it in force. It was true insurance because it protected the policyholder from a statistically small risk but a devastating one should it materialize.
Obamacare does nothing to alleviate the problem that had already been caused by too much government in the free market. Instead it doubles down on it and makes the situation worse than it was before. That’s why James Taranto says Obamacare is more a mugging than a benefit, especially to the young and healthy.