As 2013 Comes to an End, Obamacare Starting to Look Pretty Healthy

| Mon Dec. 30, 2013 12:25 PM EST

I've been away from the news for a few days, so I'm behind on things. How's Obamacare doing? Is it still a train wreck, an epic blunder, doomed to failure, the worst thing to happen to the American public since Dred Scott? I guess it must be. What can happen in the space of a few days, after all? Oh wait:

What seemed impossible in October suddenly became a lot more plausible in late December. This weekend, new enrollment data showed approximately 2 million Americans signed up for private health insurance plans since the start of open enrollment. Health policy experts now see a space to get to 7 million — although it's by no means a guarantee.

"October and November were essentially lost months," says Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "December is the first month where we're getting an indication of how things are working. It's starting to track with what people, particularly the CBO, projected originally." 

"It was a very impressive December," says Dan Mendelson, president of health research firm Avalere Health. "The fact that they have about 2 million enrolled is not that far off from [the original CBO projection of] 3.3 million."

Huh. How about that? Make a few tweaks here and there, get the marketing machine rolling, fix the website, and Obamacare is close to being back on track. It's never going to be the answer to all our health care woes—or, thanks to the vagaries of politics, even the best we could have done—but it's going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Here in the real world, that's really the best we can hope for from a big new piece of public policy.

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