Obamacare's Rise From the Ashes? 3 Signs Things Might Be Looking Up

Could Obamacare actually rise from the ashes after the embarrassing website debacle? It's certainly possible. Here are three signs that could point to better days ahead for the beleaguered health reform legislation.

1. Public opinion not getting much worse
Granted, this one seems pretty lame on the surface. But there is a glimmer of good news for Obamacare in the most recent public opinion poll conducted by CNBC.

Nearly twice as many Americans view Obamacare in a negative light than have a favorable opinion -- 47% to 26%. How could that even remotely be construed as good news for the White House? Look at the delta -- not the river variety, but the change in the survey results.

Since September, the number of respondents in the CNBC poll with unfavorable opinions about Obamacare has only increased by 1%. Similarly, the percentage viewing the law favorably has dropped by just three points from 29% in September. Yes, these are still horrible results. However, considering the overwhelmingly bad publicity from the major website problems, the relatively minor shift in public opinion could be seen as a positive sign for Obamacare.

2. Celebrities singing praises instead of parodies
Not too long ago, the entertainment industry openly mocked Obamacare. Saturday Night Live went after the website woes with gusto. Country music stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood made fun of the law in a song called "Obamacare By Morning" on the Country Music Association awards show.

Now, though, some celebrities are actively helping to promote Obamacare. Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine tweeted his 4.7 million Twitter followers last week, encouraging Californians to sign up for insurance on the state's website. Several other famous actors and sports figures -- including George Lopez, Marlon Wayans, and Lisa Leslie -- are also helping spread the word about enrolling in Obamacare plans. 

Of course, California's state health exchange didn't have nearly as many problems as the HealthCare.gov website. And the problems California did have weren't as severe as the federally operated marketplace. Still, celebrity endorsements (as opposed to celebrity derision) is an improvement. If those plugs help push more young people to sign up for Obamacare, it could be a really good sign for the program.

3. Advertising in a big way
Perhaps the biggest positive news for Obamacare stems from the big money flowing into advertising. According to The Wall Street Journal, WellPoint (NYSE: WLP  ) is planning to spend as much as $100 million on advertising -- by the the end of the year.

Health Care Service Corporation, which owns Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, is also gearing up an advertising blitz for its Obamacare plans. The nation's fourth-largest health insurer is targeting billboards, direct mail, Internet, radio, and television channels to get the word out.

If things weren't getting better for Obamacare, these and other insurers wouldn't be so eager to shell out the big bucks on marketing. Money talks -- and it seems to be saying that things are looking better than they have in a while for health reform.

Mythbusters?
HealthCare.gov appears to be working alright for the most part. The drop in public approval could be bottoming out. Obamacare is getting help from friends in Hollywood and the insurance industry. All positive signs -- but that doesn't guarantee a full recovery.

A lot could still go wrong, particularly with the back-end functionality that is invisible to website users. And while enrollment numbers are improving, they're still not even close to where they need to be for Obamacare to be considered a success. 

Maybe the biggest risk, though, is that the caution shown by two of the biggest insurers in the country proves to be prescient. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) CEO Stephen Hemsley led his company to hold back from participating too widely in state exchanges. Hemsley expressed concerns earlier in 2013 that the initial wave of enrollees in Obamacare could be less healthy -- and therefore more costly to insure.

After the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov, Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) CEO Mark Bertolini voiced similar worries. Bertolini wondered aloud if too few young, healthy Americans would sign up for health insurance. Like UnitedHealth, Aetna limited its participation in the Obamacare exchanges.

If more serious technical problems are avoided and plenty of healthy individuals enroll, Obamacare could rise from the ashes like the mythical phoenix. If not, the resurgence that some think is under way could end up more like another character from Greek mythology: Icarus, whose flight ended quite tragically.

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Read/Post Comments (23) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 10:31 AM, PSpinelli wrote:

    I'm guessing Keith's optimism is only shared by those who celebrate the fact that a broken clock is correct twice a day. Public opinion will continue to slide as the electorate begins to realize how poorly crafted this legislation is. Higher premiums, higher deductibles, fewer doctors, and unsustainability (young people aren't going to opt in to pay the older population's medical bills) will turn all but those who are poor and have pre-existing conditions against government control of our national health care.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 10:48 AM, sogole wrote:

    The truth is the ACA in not affordable for many Americans.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:09 AM, italianguy626 wrote:

    If you thought Obamacare was a mess now, just wait until after January 1 when people go to use their "insurance", and finding out that they aren't covered due to the snafus on the back end of the website or their doctor is not in their new network.

    I'm also curious to see if people that know of Obamacare but don't know that you actually have to SIGN UP for insurance just start showing up at doctor's offices and/or hospital waiting rooms demanding their "free" healthcare.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:40 AM, TIA wrote:

    Celebrities? Really? Is George Lopez still alive? Aren't Lavine's 4.7 million followers prebubescent girls?

    Nah, snake oil fraudulence is out in the open, and its an ever increasing cynicism, it cannot be diluted by a perverted justification that you are hastening long enduring injustice down the wind, less by spending more money on hucksterinsm.

    There is still time to right things, buts its an opportunity afforded only by crawling back to the truth and admitting everything. The restorative self reproach carries with it a blade sharp enough to chop off scales of ugliness, but it requires a character larger than stupid hubris and self importance. Truth alone will be its own insulation from scorn of historical diminishment of this president. The only security blanket the "lie" can stitch now which might shield him from populace ridicule is a porous cloth of unimaginitive contrivances of silences and obscurantism.

    Freedom and facism are both decided by the properties of peculiar inertia. Freedom can only be put in motion by the forces of inquiry and skepticism. The "lie" has become a measurement of the velocity of freedom which will be fed by a constancy of principle, the weight against which insistence can not impede nor power halt.

    Facism is set in motion by the weight of a population bearing witness to the illuminate side of it's own eyelids.

    The "lie" woke them, thus compelling the pace of freedom, rather than acccepting governmental chloroform and the thought of our own inanimation.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:46 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Jay Carney wrote this.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:54 AM, GuitarJim wrote:

    So an unpopular three year old law drops another 1% in one poll in the past three months, and the author thinks this is a good sign? It's slipped more than 1% in other polls, and it hasn't gained points in any poll that I'm aware of.

    None of the so-called celebrities who are supporting it are actually using the exchanges to buy insurance.

    Microsoft is advertising the crap out of Windows 8, and that hasn't been helping it's popularity much.

    Fact it. ObamaCare is a disaster, and the worst is yet to come.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:55 AM, GuitarJim wrote:

    "Face" it.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:57 AM, frilled2b wrote:

    Country music stars are rich and can pay what ever Obamacare costs them.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 12:02 PM, mdk0611 wrote:

    Popular opinion isn't worsening. Well, you can't go below 0%.

    Just wait until the small business provisions kick in next year. It actually might fall BELOW 0%.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 12:09 PM, Chaseagee wrote:

    1. Public opinion not getting much worse, That depends on whose running the polls.

    2. Celebrities singing praises instead of parodies

    Of course they are. Hollyweird liberals back anything the progressives come up with. I don't pay attention to them, I make my own opinion, as should all Americans.

    Mythbusters? Bust this myth. The government conducted a hostile take over of the Health Industry. In fact they should all change their web sites to .gov

    Whats next, going after the big oil companies, cutting their subsidies, and raising gasoline prices to $5 a gallon to create more tax money, to pay for windmills that now have been found, cannot create the same amount of electricity as coal and gas fired plants? China owns the banks and makes the money on loans, why cant the US govt? Before you answer negatively, the government now owns the Health care industry. Maybe the progressive liberals, should pass a law changing the name of the US to Venezuela, and Obama to Chavez.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 1:54 PM, evrapeir wrote:

    Shouldn't this be titled: "Rise from the Asses?"

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 5:55 PM, jeremyvinh wrote:

    If taxpayer funded advertising to try and propaganda the law into favorability or dumb as rocks celebrities singing their praises are indications of things looking up. This writer is even more gullible than the article title indicated.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 6:41 PM, djm20 wrote:

    I'm curious as to why Motley Fool is so intent on defending the President and his legislation? This is the third article justifying the ACA using some pretty thin logic. Advertising? Seriously?

    This is destroying the Fool's credibility. I thought they were selling financial advice, not government programs.

    That's ok. It sure doesn't matter to me or probably to the other potential customers you are seeking to attract. Why should the Fool worry about customers? They have the President on their side. That is akin to having God on your side.

    Rots of Ruck

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 9:20 PM, Jellybeans wrote:

    I have lost all credibility in Motley Fool. I used to read them, now I only see them with a very jaundiced eye.

    1) Sure, enrollment is increasing. It's not hard to increase from six people!

    2) Advertising? If it is good, it DOES not need advertising!

    3) Hollywood types sing the praises of the socialist idea, but they will do this even if the idea stinks.

    Let me tell you how this is. How. This. Is. Young and poor people STILL think Obamacare is free healthcare. They still think January 1 they can walk into any clinic and get a free visit and free meds. When we tell them they have to enroll and PAY they do not believe us.

    And for people who can buy, Obamacare is way way too expensive. Private care is the only way to go. Motley Fool has really lived up to it's name.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 10:54 PM, VROD2003 wrote:

    Dah~! So much progress. Hmmm~! If you are on the public dole. This must be an opportunistic moment. How many in the white house have signed up? How many on capitol hill have signed up? Such a furry of politicians waiting in line for ACA aka obama care. Please don't all push and shove. Plenty of misery to go around. Just ask the people who have been thrown off of there plans. Hurry! Don't let that bother you. After all harry reid and barbra pelosi are so fond of there policies. Of course it depends on the policy your talking about. Is it there preferred luxury health insurance plan? Or there ACA aka obama care mandate. SCRAP THE ACA aka obama care. HSA Health Savings Account for every one. No Exceptions!

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:33 PM, sparksinchitown wrote:

    Fool runs left. Always has. Check out some of the Tesla articles. First solar, ACA, they always go for the gov't sponsored (favored) companies.

    Still George Soros plays the market very well. As do the ChiComs of late.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:39 PM, richard232323 wrote:

    celebrities behind obamacare is a positive event--- really--- they are in the tank for this president no matter what.

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:42 PM, richard232323 wrote:

    Does the author of this article work for this president ?

  • Report this Comment On December 18, 2013, at 11:44 PM, richard232323 wrote:

    How much of this advertising money is tax payer money ?

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2013, at 11:51 AM, Gertrude wrote:

    Obama urinal targets available on line now! Fill his ears for bonus points!

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2013, at 12:02 PM, weez43 wrote:

    No matter how bad it is and or gets Obama and Jay Carney/Pelosi/Reid will all claim it's going better than expected because the only hear what they want to believe and then claim it as fact and say any opinion to the contrary come from racists that hate Obama. Are these people carrying out the will of the people or just doing what they want? Why do they not subject themselves to the laws they right?

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2013, at 1:48 PM, Dayo2 wrote:

    Yes, another South of the Border 11 million illegals in the U.S.and those 535 persons are going to give more citizenship and more free medical and education for the bad part of the one percent hiring them for profit. The south of the border is taking over the United States the same as Merry Christmas to China, who in the stores are selling almost all items. That they do not have to pay for. We as Americans have to pay extremely higher as middle class and 60% of our home losses is from Medical.

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2013, at 8:26 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    The latest WH propaganda is that only 500,000 people lost their healthcare coverage

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