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Obamacare Might Be the Best-Managed New Social Program in 80 Years

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Is Obamacare a big flop? That depends on whom you ask.

The program's proponents can point to an estimated 9 million newly insured Americans -- 3 million who are now covered under their parents' plans until age 26, 2 million who've bought policies on the Obamacare exchanges, and more than 4 million now signed up for Medicaid -- as proof that Obamacare is having its intended effect. Opponents note that the low percentage of young enrollees undermines promises of a better risk pool, to say nothing of the program's exorbitant costs, which include anywhere from about $300 million to more than $2 billion just to set up and operate the maligned website.

But if you ask political historians, you might be surprised. The United States has been rolling out major new social-insurance programs for eight decades now, beginning with Social Security's first tax levies in 1937. While Social Security and the Medicare-Medicaid combination were certainly more ambitious reforms than Obamacare from a coverage and governance perspective, their early costs and rollout hiccups can be instructive for anyone fretting about costly "death spirals" or unintended budgetary consequences. And there were hiccups.

Social Security and the Roosevelt recession
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935, but the program began collecting taxes in 1937. That year, $767 million flowed into federal coffers from new taxes, but nearly no one received benefit payments, which were paid as one-time lump sums until 1940. This was one of the largest tax increases in modern history, if not the largest -- federal tax receipts soared by 72% from 1936 to 1938, and government balanced-budget efforts, implemented at the same time, caused a sharp and devastating "Roosevelt recession" that undid much of the progress made to that time against the Great Depression.

The best way to compare this new cost to Obamacare is to look at nominal national GDP in 1937 and GDP today. Social Security's new taxes hit so hard and so rapidly that the economy was already sliding into recession by the time 1937's first-quarter GDP numbers were known. However, even at the year's high-water economic mark, Social Security taxes amounted to nearly 1% of the economy, and this was simply to begin collections for a program that was set to cover only half of the workforce.

A $2 billion hit in 2014 for Obamacare program maintenance doesn't come close -- it's barely a hundredth of 1% of the most recently reported GDP figures. Even if you add in the Congressional Budget Office's estimates on Obamacare's total costs -- which includes Obamacare exchange subsidies and new outlays for Medicaid and other programs -- the new total of $51 billion is still only a third of 1% of American GDP. That might pinch the economy, but it's not likely to hurt growth the same way that Social Security did in its first year of tax collection.

Sources: Social Security Administration, Congressional Budget Office, and the St. Louis Fed.

The Medicare-Medicaid rollout "stumble"
Obamacare supporters can also take heart from the problems of its progenitor: Medicare and Medicaid, which were signed into law in 1965, hit a number of snags on their 1966 rollout. Stephen Mim, writing for Bloomberg last fall, noted:

For starters, few in the government seem to have realized that more than 45% of those born between 1890 and 1920 couldn't prove their age because they lacked birth certificates. ... In the fall of 1965, millions started to enroll, no doubt aided by the reasonable ease -- perhaps too easy -- of proving one's age. But ignorance of how the law actually worked became a serious problem by that time. More than 700,000 of those eligible for supplemental coverage refused to sign up in the opening months. ... [M]any older people believed that signing up for Medicare meant they would cease receiving Social Security. Others thought they couldn't afford the $3 monthly premium, even though the law had provisions to assist low-income enrollees.

As the date for Medicare's formal beginning approached, more serious problems cropped up. The most serious was a campaign by many doctors to boycott the program. In the months leading up to the final legislative debates, and after, the American Medical Association faced a revolt in its ranks over the issue, though it reluctantly endorsed cooperation. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, organized to combat "socialized medicine," came out against the law, urging "nonparticipation." The organization predicted that 50,000 doctors nationwide would refuse to play ball.

Many of these problems were, of course, overcome without any of the catastrophes now predicted for the smaller and more conservative Obamacare rollout. However, the costs of Medicare and Medicaid combined in 1966 added up to $2.2 billion, or about a third of 1% of national GDP that year. This is in line with Obamacare's anticipated total costs this year, but there's one caveat: Real per-person medical spending was a heck of a lot lower in 1966 than it is today.

Roughly 23 million people signed up for Medicare and Medicaid in 1966, which means that total per-person program costs were just $96, which would be $671 today after adjusting for inflation. Obamacare's per-person costs, on the other hand, currently hover around $5,400 if we count every new enrollee across all programs -- and enrollment numbers are certain to rise throughout the year, putting significant downward pressure on the final figure. Still, that does seem much higher than early Medicare and Medicaid spending, doesn't it?

However, when we look at present-day per-person program costs in Medicare and Medicaid, we discover the new cost realities of the American health-care system: In 2012, Medicare and Medicaid combined for $994 billion in federal spending, and since an estimated 109 million individuals are enrolled in one or both programs, they received an average of $9,200 each in benefits. If we deflate that figure back to 1966-equivalent levels, then each new enrollee would have received a staggering $1,300 in nominal 1966 spending, an amount more than 13 times higher than the actual amount spent that year per enrollee. Summed up across 23 million enrollees, that would have equaled nearly $30 billion, or nearly 4% of American GDP in 1966. We can't truly compare the Medicare and Medicaid rollouts with Obamacare's rollout because health care has become a much larger part of the American economy.

Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Affairs, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, the Urban Institute, and author's calculations.

Modern parallels with valuable lessons
It's also worth considering the parallels between Obamacare and Medicare Part D, which was the last major effort at health-care reform and which began operation in 2006. That program was somewhat more limited in scope than Obamacare, as it simply attempted to expand prescription drug coverage, but the 10.4 million enrollees who received first-year coverage still accounted for $3,800 in government spending per person in 2006 -- and that was just for prescription drugs! However, over time, this cost has actually declined modestly per person. In 2013, about 18 million Medicare Part D enrollees received roughly $4,000 in spending per person, which comes in a bit below the $4,400 per person we'd see if we adjusted 2006's spending for inflation. That's good news for Obamacare boosters, who've often touted the cost-bending benefits of the program's new negotiating powers against the sprawling health-care industry.

Will Obamacare be a big flop? Will it do everything its backers hope, and more? It's too early to tell, but when you look back at earlier efforts at social insurance in the United States, it doesn't look like quite so bad a deal.

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Read/Post Comments (89) | Recommend This Article (24)

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 January 19, 2014, at 1:32 AM, OnTheContrary wrote:

    What's the point of comparing Ponzi schemes? They all look good in the short term, and they all crash eventually.

    Social Security has been a slow-motion disaster. It has for many years been sucking 12.4% out of the economy and the government has been spending that money on wasteful pork barrel projects as fast as it comes in. They, after 40-50 years of contributions, retirees, instead of being able to draw on a nice nest egg, built up through compounding of conservative investments, get paid off in dollars that are worth on the average one-third of what they were worth when the money was taken out of their paychecks, and that percentage is falling every year thanks to the heavily doctored CPI that has been underreporting inflation at the rate of 5% a year for the last 20 years. And now the Ponzi scheme is about to fail altogether because the proportion of retirees to workers is becoming so large.

    The only people who benefit from these schemes are the politicians and bureaucrats who administer them. If these weren't government programs, their perpetrators would be in jail.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 3:24 AM, NoMoreBaloney wrote:

    According to a January 2014 column by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, despite all the millions that have chosen a policy at this late date, hardly anybody has made a payment towards their premium.

    Also, in the same paper, there is a warning that the main indicator of success of the ACA is not the proportion of young to elderly that sign up, but the proportion of the sick to the healthy. This is easily verified by the fact that a healthy 55 to 60 year old will pay a high premium but not use the insurance much. A sick, very sick 30 year old on the other hand will raise the cost of insurance for the risk pool.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 6:29 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    No mention of the following facts:

    1. Most of the "newly" insured already had policies either from their employers or from private insurance. Hardly any of the previously uninsured have signed up.

    2. The people needed to make the plan work (young, healthy) have not signed up which will make the premiums more expensive for the rest.

    Therefore, the ACA should be considered ineffective so far..

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 7:42 AM, judysway wrote:

    All things built on a foundation of lies and deception will crash and burn. People who know history and study both the foundation of this country and the methods of past evil persons who have destroyed other countries know what is being attempted here. It saddens me that so many are so willing to believe that they will get something for free. Childhood stories even explain it, so there is no excuse! Pinocio, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz all teach about the seduction of evil and the belief of something or someone to "fix it". The ACA is more than a "Ponzi" scheme, it is much worse! Please remove the blinders on your eyes, and ask yourself why they are lying about it? What is the agenda here? When you find the answers you will be afraid for the future of America.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 8:20 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    As Steve Jobs said "one more thing" (well, two):

    3. The auto-pay system is not implemented yet.

    4. There are multiple entry points for hackers to get into the system and steal your identity.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 8:51 AM, judysway wrote:

    The auto-pay not implemented? How about the IRS being in charge? You know the one and same IRS who targets conservative groups? You do not suppose they would target some for health care? Or maybe overcharge some and not others?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:01 AM, theAntiLib wrote:

    lol. When I saw the headline on the Yahoo homepage, I thought this must be from the Onion. What a preposterous premise for an article. "Fool"ish, indeed.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:15 AM, rickdri wrote:

    Aren't these social programs suppose to help everyone, not just a select few. What about those of us that lost our insurance and the many more that will do so next year? What about those of us that saw their premiums nearly triple paying for services we don't want nor will we ever need? Sure some people have been helped. Many more though have been hurt. I am beginning to really get PO'd at all of these writers and their stupid articles about how great Obamacare is! Why don't they go out and ask the folks that have been hurt how they like this awful law?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:32 AM, benjonson wrote:

    Best managed social program in 80 years...that's a very low bar to hurdle.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:48 AM, rekbec1 wrote:

    Many of the preceding comments are natural expectations, but none pose solutions for the poor to retire or the poor having medical coverage. Come on folks, come up with some real better solutions if you are going to be critics of these programs. I very much doubt that you will.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:49 AM, TaxDoctor11 wrote:

    What poor research. 3.8 of the 4.0 million Medicaid recipients are people who were previously on Medicaid. They are re-enrollees. And a significant number of the private insured were already insured. And furthermore, how many of the newly subsidized previously had insurance which the taxpayer did not have to pay for?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:53 AM, topspinner55 wrote:

    I cannot believe Fool, an entity that guides us with money management, recommending a money pit like Obamacare. I look to the Fool as an unbiased opinion of areas which affect our financial lives! Very disappointed and will look deeper into the Fool's advisor and possible conflict of interest.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:01 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    Awesome comparison! Thanks Alex!


  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:05 PM, buzzltyr wrote:

    The first thing when discussing Obamacare is to admit the current system is not working and will eventually fail. It is just too expensive, forcing more and more people to go unisured, so the hospitals have to raise prices for the actual paying patients. At some point when costs get too high and enough people drop out the system will collapse.

    If we ignore all the manic quotes for the republicans and look at obamacare, what we find it is creating a very large group insurance where the players will very cost conscious because they are paying the bills. It is not free health care, the co pays are substantial, people will be looking for the best way. What we will see in the future is the health field will finally have to learn to be cost efficient, something they have never done. No, there will not be as many options, no we will not have the cadillac policies we have today, but medical costs will finally come under control

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:07 PM, bulfrog5 wrote:

    I wonder how much this advertisement cost the American tax payer?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:11 PM, Obamasaliar wrote:

    Best managed government program, means we're scre^^ed. Best managed program .... then the writer of this article is a fool.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:17 PM, pencilman wrote:

    This article has made me determined to NOT read anything recommended by the Motley fool. Thanks guys.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:19 PM, KevinO3826 wrote:

    Obamacare is not going to work. Maybe we have not seen the full benefit but neither have we yet seen all the problems and they seem to be mounting judging by todays additional delay. In addition Obama does not have the constitutional authority to make the changes he has made to the law. With all the challenges which the media like Fool have failed to properly report on nothing about Obamacare is a sure thing. This is certainly not the best managed government program by far.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:22 PM, Veritas177 wrote:

    By far the most significant tax of Obamacare comes when the people have to pay for the first time, or pay more, for insurance. That impact only just started (January was the first month of premium.) The upshot is Obama's "Roosevelt recession" is yet to come. Hundreds of billions will be drained from consumer spending and redirected to insurance premiums this year, all during a fragile and weak "recovery." Not to worry, though, it is certain that Obama will simply blame the resulting recession on "obstructionist" Republicans.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:24 PM, oldandsmart wrote:

    Alex, you are so full of crap with your content of this article. You lie as much as obama.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:30 PM, judysway wrote:

    A solution?

    1. Get an education!

    2. Get a job!

    3. Instead of holding your hand out, use your hand to pull yourself up by your bootstraps up and out of poverty. If the rest of us can do it, So can you!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:34 PM, Conscript40 wrote:

    Before comparing Obamacare with all the other programs... Might want to consider the technology gap. There shouldn't be these kinds of problems anymore. I could have gotten a teenager that could have put together a functioning website and had the exchange programs all linked in and ready to go in less than half the time it took for the company that did make the website that is hardly what most would call "functional". You all have invested so heavily in this agenda, you all can't stop the lies now, eh? Got to keep trying to smooth it all over and make it out to be a minor hiccup. Anyone care to name one universal healthcare system or single-payer healthcare system that actually worked in favor of the average person? We haven't had decades of people coming to our nation for healthcare services because our system was broken... We HAVE the best in the world. But not for long. Sure, there is some reform in the way of health insurance goes. But that's a matter of opening up state borders for insurance companies. The companies are far too limited in their demographics.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:35 PM, timbertrail wrote:

    Very, very premature assessment. There is so much we do not know or understand about this legislation. There is no long term indication that this law will not overwhelm our medical system with costs,reduced health care options and managed (reduced) health care for the elderly. Come back in a couple of years and try this argument again.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:36 PM, Govt4thegovt wrote:

    Right! and I am 8 " tall we have the worst president ever on record muslim not for America so all this about the best managed program in 80 years is just another dream of Obama's and the writer here.

    ever who is writing this trash needs to be fired because they know nothing..................

    when they are picked up and thrown into one of Obama's camps ran by fema / marshal law which is when the military from the UN is the police! then they may realize how great thou art.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:36 PM, consAREidiots wrote:

    you should make it clear (for your more slow-minded readers) that (R)'s convinced Roosevelt to stop spending and balance the budget, causing the very poorly named "roosevelt recession".

    Any conservative who whines about the "roosevelt recession" is actually whining about the effects of Republican austerity.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:38 PM, consAREidiots wrote:

    Also for your more slow-minded readers, Obamacare's cost is more than covered by its funding.

    And that is why it lowers the deficit.

    Funds coming in are greater than its cost.

    Obamacare lowers the deficit.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:39 PM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    I don't know where Alex Planes gets his information from but it's either from Harry Reid or Pelosi because he sure isn't using reallity.

    Obamacare costs to working people has skyrocketed. Well - except for the welfare class people. And most of them couldn't figure it out anyway.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:40 PM, doraglasberg wrote:

    There are some very disturbed folks posting here.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:43 PM, GuyBB wrote:

    So, yet another paid political advertisement by big brother Barrack?

    You can paint stripes on a donkey, but no matter how many times you call it a zebra, it still is a donkey. The lies the liberal media gets away with using partial analysis of incomplete data, and projecting it into the future just reminds me of the 10 Trillion dollar surplus that fool Al Gore was talking about during his election campaign!

    We need a constitutional amendment banning the following: Political Parties, Opinion Polls, and spending money not taken in yet!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:50 PM, JJE90000 wrote:

    Well you article loses all credibility when you say that 4 million signed up for Medicare...this program has nothing to do with Medicare, its Medicaid for godsake.

    Second, of the millions you site who have signed up because of the 26 year rule...think about that for a second. How many stayed on the parents plan because they could not find work? Parents aren't really paying anything for these kids because all carriers know that a huge percent of that age group 18-26 do not access care.

    Third, of those who have signed up through the exchanges, its a maximum of 2 million and many of those are ones who already had coverage that was lost because of the changes in coverage that Obamacare mandated.

    The primary goal of Obamacare was to insure the uninsured. The federal government estimates that 30-50 million Americans are uninsured. Obama's own estimates is that possibly 3 million of these people will become insured under the exchanges.

    So what did Obamacare really get Americans?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:52 PM, RLv2 wrote:

    Motley Fool is Pro Amnesty, Pro Global Warming taxation and Pro Obamacare.

    How much kickbacks are they getting from the administration or are they merely settling for Obamacare waivers??

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:59 PM, DenK wrote:

    This just in - "The 1945 firebombing of Tokyo may be the best managed urban renewal program in 80 years."

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:59 PM, theotherken wrote:

    The Motley Fool has just lost all credibility with this article, shame on you for this propaganda.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:00 PM, kahutchins wrote:

    Really don't think they have factored in the cost to the middle class because most signing up are going onto Medicaid programs which are funded by tax payers. The cost is going to be astronomical to those who work and the businesses they work for. We have always had health insurance and we pay a good bit for the company offered coverage. Between what we pay in premiums and what we pay out of pocket we end up paying out more than the insurance company...and now we will be taxed more on it to.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:00 PM, charles0928 wrote:

    It took me 3 months to finish. And so far I no insurance for my wife or kid, they where sent to medicade and they haven't even started processing anything yet and now its 4 months. I he called many times and this policy cost way more. $193 just for me and I pay $600 for my family to have private insurance. so this doesn't work. they told me they haven't even started on obamacare applications

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:02 PM, FireBreather wrote:

    Motley.....I'm beginning to believe "there's an agenda" with this so-called investment advice. It's diametrically opposed to what most of are living.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:07 PM, Goldenboys wrote:

    This is one of the stupidest articles on the ACA ever written. Comparing the costs of Obamacare, which has been in existence 3.5 months with Medicare, which has been around since 1965 is laughable. What is a proven fact is that 6 Million Americans were kicked out of perfectly good health plans due to the requirements of the ACA, contrary to the promises of Obama. In addition, people buying health insurance through the Exchanges who aren't getting subsidies are paying much higher premiums for for often poorer coverage that has much higher deductibles...deductibles that most Middle Class families cannot afford.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:08 PM, boxerbill wrote:

    Alex Planes must think we're all fools.

    Alex ignores that the majority of people who've signed up, up to possibly 90%, already had insurance and were forced onto the system by Obama's Lies.

    ALex ignores that their prices are now higher and they have policies they are forced to take without choice.

    Alex ignores that with those statisitics it means only 200,000-300,000 are actually people who didn't have insurance.

    Alex ignores that of those 200-300k most of them are old, sick, and had preexisting conditions.

    And lastly, Alex ignores that besides the billions wasted by the government to set up Obamacare, the millions wasted having HIV patients promoting the site, and the trillions expected to be transferred out of the economy and into the medicaid and obama care programs,, they still have to offer under the table money to insurance companies GUARANTEEING them profits no matter the depth of this failure.

    Other than that Alex was right on, Go Socialism.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:18 PM, 2smartforlibs wrote:

    Didn't the overlord claim 34 million needed insurance before this POS law was passed? Not that that law and the existing law are even close to the same. Doesn't that mean first day out 34 million should have been in line to sign up? Still don't have 34 million but have private information of millions. If you take off the rose colored liberal glasses you could all see this isn't going to work. Its just more liberal vote buying

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:20 PM, ezears wrote:

    The article says 4M have signed up for Medicare - that's wrong - it's Medicaid - and we found that the number includes renewals of existing enrollees. The newly covered is less than 1M

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:24 PM, floydhowardjr wrote:

    “Who created the entitlement state and who sustains it? Democrats! Democrats keep adding to the unemployed! By the time they are voted out only one in ten Americans will be employed! If you lose your job, your coverage, your doctor, your insurance BLAME a Democrat. Next time you go and vote...remember WHO did this to YOU! DEMOCRATS!” Democrats keep adding to the unemployed! People Not In Labor Force Soar To Record 91.8 Million! Thanks Obama! Thanks spineless Democrats!”

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:26 PM, bkmobal wrote:

    This is a joke, right?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:33 PM, ghelmz21 wrote:

    Well at least the story is reported by an appropriate venue and title!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:35 PM, MWWMB wrote:

    Time will tell, but I am rather shocked that you would put this out there. Whereas your comparisons are much flawed. As an example. the obamacare program should have gone A LOT smoother with all of the technology and resources at our disposal today. Seeing this article will definitely make me think twice about any other advise or opinions put out by MF.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:35 PM, kingn500 wrote:

    Obama care cost cannot be evaluated at this time and what is said in this article are deceiving people since Obama administration postponed the implementation deadlines of the many of the important provisions of the law for a year or more and until the whole law is fully implemented its total cost can't be estimated and its dire effects will cause serious problems to the whole economy in US in the long term .Health care cost in US is going down before the beginning of implementation of Obama care law and this can also be due to the decimal economic growth in US in the last 5 years.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:37 PM, ferdiefor wrote:

    Motley Fools are making fools of themselves. Did they not hear yesterday that only 11% of the 2.2M signups were newbies; never having insurance previously?

    No point in going on and on about an article that has zero credibility. All realities will be exposed. The only question is whether Obama and the insurance companies conspire to put off premium increase realities until after the 2014 mid-terms in return for Obama's promise to cover their losses.

    Crony capitalism is destroying this country by forcing the individual into mandates that make corporations richer and their shareholders richer at the cost of the individual's rights and freedoms and I do invest my money but not in health insurers because they may think things are OK now but a few years from now they will be nothing more than glorified utility companies dancing to the government's tune.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:42 PM, kingn500 wrote:

    What is really stupid in this article is that they are comparing the cost of roll out of programs like SS medicaid and medicare that were rolled out in the twenty century where the science technology were primitive and there were no computers to Obama care law that is rolled out in the 21 century were there is explosion in technology and computers and yet the roll out of heath care exchanges of Obama care law were a real disaster and very expensive based on this technology.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:45 PM, JePonce wrote:

    Safety net? We have gone from a safety net to a hammock, to a full blown vibrating water bed.

    In 2013, local, state, and federal governments spent $6.129 Trillion dollar taken from private sector U.S. capital using direct and indirect taxes and expanding taxpayer debt. That is nearly 40% of our GDP.

    Of that amount, they spent $3.811 Trillion taxpayer dollars on Entitlement and Welfare programs.

    Trickle up to government treasury coffers, ends trickle down possibilities.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:47 PM, hard2please wrote:

    We all maya s well get used to more of these failed ponzu schemes. The demmunists have passed out freebies to so many underserving potential voters that the only way we will ever get them voted out will be to have a revolution.

    This latest "successful" scheme has seen cost rise at alarming rates for those of us who have ALWAYS provided for ourselves and our families.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:54 PM, ChetJester wrote:

    What about the $4.5B doled out by HHS to the states to establish websites, hire navigators, and tout the program?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:55 PM, TYPEONEGATIVE wrote:

    Oh good, half of the new signups joined Medicaid, which already existed and doesn't help the exchange at all.

    What a cluster

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 1:59 PM, redfox435cat wrote:

    How does a dude like this say employed? Its laced with so many inaccuracies and bold faced lies it just can't be taken seriously.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:06 PM, Lewis52 wrote:

    Did I click on a link from The Onion by mistake? Are you seriously calling this a success?

    Of the two million people who have bought policies, lots of them had cheaper policies that they preffered, but were kicked off those policies and had no where else to go.

    As for the people covered by their parents insurance, yay for them, but it's just jacking up their parents' rates (and everyone else's), and pre-Obamacare 20 somethings could get insurance dirt cheap.

    And for the expanded medicaid - I don't blame them for taking it (after all it's free to them) but there are lots of studies that show medicaid is highly ineffective despite it's steep cost to the taxpayers.

    Of course we'll all be on the equivilent of medicaid once this whole thing crashes and burns. That was the plan all along.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:15 PM, GuitarJim wrote:

    This is absurd. Medicare and Medicaid are funded entirely with tax money. The overwhelming majority of health insurance plans under Obamacare come from private health insurance companies, and are funded largely with direct payments to the insurance companies. Older, sicker, or poorer Americans are getting insurance thanks to the much higher premiums being paid by younger, healthier, and more affluent Americans. Only the subsidies involve money that has to be funnelled through the government's coffers first.

    The author is ignoring the bulk of the money being spent and focusing only the relatively small portion being paid for by the federal government, and comparing this to programs which are entirely funded by the government.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:19 PM, akhilc wrote:

    Private: 2.40M • Medicaid/CHIP: 4.51M • Off-Exchange: 30K • Sub26ers: 3.1M

    Total as of Jan 17, 2014: 10.05 Million

    Enrollment Period Elapsed: 59.3% • CBO Projection Attained: 34.4%

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:24 PM, chadanworth wrote:

    Clearly the Obamacare (maybe Obama) haters do not wish to be confused by the facts. Nevertheless, Just keep putting the facts out so the more objective readers can make informed decisions. Keep up the good work Alex.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:27 PM, thsolo wrote:

    Look, without exception, no government program has either cost what they say it's going to cost, the savings never materialize and the stated goals are never accomplished. Whether its been the income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now Obama(doesn't)care and any of the other government sponsored scams, the real purpose is to eliminate our liberties and fleece our wallets. Money, power, control, rewarding friends and punishing enemies is what governments all about. Obama(doesn't)care is based on fraud, deceit, bribed, kickbacks, lies, extortion, blackmail and nearly any other form of corruption you care to mention. To sugar coat it like this article attempts to do is merely a continuation of the lies.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:35 PM, toml721 wrote:

    Be RESPECTFUL??? I don't think so, if you insult my intelligence, be prepared to to get an ear full This is a load of crap. no one is signing up for this nonsense and the most important demigraphic the president was counting on isn't signing up because they're not that stupid and they don't have the jobs or the money to pay the premiums. Tell the whole trust and stop being a mouth piece for the president.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:49 PM, Paulson545 wrote:

    obamacare is going to be a huge expensive failure. It can only succeed if all the young people in America sign up and kids think that they will live forever and never get sick. Premiums are going to skyrocket and the American taxpayer will be forced to pay to fix it....

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:49 PM, Lovesmusic wrote:

    What planet have you been on lately?? Obamacare will destroy our healthcare system. The "program" is already dividing U.S. citizens into those who have coverage (mostly Medicaid), those who cannot afford coverage, and those who are waiting for the next shoe to fall when employers are involved. In the meantime, the disaster of bad data, clarifying coverage, and now the healthcare claims black hole will start big time. Obamacare will be the U.S. new four letter word. I bet even you will spell it that way soon. Nov. 2014 cannot come to soon!!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 2:51 PM, Lovesmusic wrote:


  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 3:11 PM, Lovesmusic wrote:

    I figured it out. Alex Planes is trying for a job at MSNBC and this is his audition piece! Why else would he consider such rubbish as journalism? You have a good chance, Alex.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 3:35 PM, janascom wrote:

    It was already proven that the medicaid number is off as they counted renewals (NOT Just NEW subscribers).

    Does anyone fact check before they write or just take the governments word for it?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 3:36 PM, janascom wrote:

    To clarify new medicaid was around 380,000

    the rest were renewals that had nothing to do with ACA

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 3:42 PM, judysway wrote:

    Not only a job at MSNBC, Alex also will get free health care! Just like all the cronies in this administration...none of them will pay a dime for this fiasco and all will get "Cadillac" plans for their healthcare. The rest of us, well, we are just supposed to die if we get sick. The only way this will reduce the trillions in deficit is if "we all pay" for insurance, but actual coverage will be "that treatment is too expensive" and not be covered.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:00 PM, ruthm wrote:

    This is pure propaganda and Motley Fool just lived up to its name.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:05 PM, Pluto57 wrote:

    I wonder how much the Obama administration paid the Fool to write this article.

    Repeating the lies that the administration is spewing about enrollment numbers will not make them true.

    ObamaCare is not responsible for the majority of the new Medicaid enrollments - less than 10% of new Medicaid participants became eligible due to ObamaCare.

    Between 65% and 85% of the exchange enrollees are those who lost their individual health insurance due to ObamaCare. And many of those haven't actually made a payment to their insurance company.

    Bottom line is that the people who didn't have health insurance prior to ObamaCare fell into two categories. Those who didn't want it and those who wanted it, but couldn't afford it. After ObamaCare, those who didn't want it, still don't want it and those who can't afford it, still can't afford it. So what has changed?

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:23 PM, True411 wrote:

    Complete garbage article. It is well known that most of the people who signed up for ObamaCare ALREADY HAD HEALTH INSURANCE. There are NOT 9 million new enrollees.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:42 PM, DrG wrote:

    There are winners and losers in the ACA. If you had no insurance and now get low cost subsidized insurance you are one of the winners. If you got your Medicare Advantage copayments and coinsurance increased or have higher premiums than you can afford you are one of the losers. United Healthcare Complete Medicare Advantage virtually dismantled their provider network to compensate for the cuts

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 4:57 PM, Ethanoldawg wrote:

    17trillion in debt and growing. Our children will pay for the debt of their Mothers. A real fool wrote this article.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 5:32 PM, lj1965 wrote:

    Not surprising that ACA is doing as well or better than comparable large Roll-Outs. The sheer massiveness of such programs guarantee implementation problems. What will be remembered the most will be the all-out determined effort by detractors to undermine its chances for success...those both in and outside of politics. Historians accounts of this two term President will feature narratives that expose unprecedented attempts to derail any and all initiatives from the White-House. Some will reasonably conclude that a conspiracy existed to deny legitimacy and the ability to govern for "unspecified" reasons

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 6:12 PM, Itsataxstupid wrote:

    Its a TAX, not a Social program you foolish lemmings. I dropped my citizenship because of this latest tax increase

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 6:30 PM, SSBN620 wrote:

    It's stuff like THIS that convinced me to cancel my Motley Fool subscription. I shall not return.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 6:34 PM, skipgainer61 wrote:

    Please just change your name to Obama`s Fool, it would at least be honest.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 7:05 PM, alrtee wrote:

    More bs from the liberals and muslims

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 7:41 PM, rockncoal wrote:

    Yep, and the Titanic was one of the best new ships ever!

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 8:38 PM, btall2000 wrote:

    O PLEASE. Since the U.S. Government has a poor track record for the last 100 years and the implementation of the Obama care web site [A Foreign Company} is a GREAT example of "BAD MANAGEMENT".

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 9:28 PM, SteveSays2014 wrote:

    It definitely seems that The Motley Fool is definitely made up of fools. The Affordable care act is NOT affordable. There are high monthly premiums and deductibles. You must have coverage for things some people will never use. The Medicaid provides coverage ONLY if the state has expanded coverage. If that state hasn't then the person doesn't have medical insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act is another Obama and Democratic party joke on the American people.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 9:37 PM, kdavis860 wrote:

    I guess this mostly shows how badly social programs go in general. It's like you're serving the shortest sentence of anybody in your jail cell. I wouldn't brag.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 11:56 PM, shrdlu wrote:

    Alex Planes' statement: "My life is a vacation from reality" shows itself in this article.


  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:02 AM, kanawha40 wrote:

    I am greatly disappointed in TMF for this ridiculous article. It makes me wonder just how impartial their analysis of financial matter is?

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:28 AM, glenn08020802 wrote:

    Only a Fool would write an article like this. The other posters pretty much made the case against the authors points and ripped them apart.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 8:12 AM, carmeno wrote:

    Doesn't Motley Fool review the articles before posting them to see if they seem even remotely accurate and/or believable? I agree with most people posting about this article and other previous articles about things such as Obamacare and Social Security. Maybe the writers should be asked to research before posting.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 11:57 AM, MissMimi1972 wrote:

    This is only going to be beneficial if you have enough HEALTHY people enrolling to cover the costs of a lot of unhealthy ones.

    What if only the unhealthy people (because hey they need it and I'm one of the unhealthy ones myself) enroll and there aren't enough people to spread the costs evenly to the people who are healthy and can afford this plan?

    Makes me wonder how long it would last.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 12:27 PM, MS wrote:

    After reading the first real paragrapgh, there is no reason to finish the read. Immediately the writer clearly points out an "ESTIMATED" 9 million new enrollments and and portrays them as factual "PROOF" of enrollment by the end of the same sentence. Delusional Propaganda. Obamacare intended effect is "FORCE" by law.

    There is no reason for anyone to take this artical serious. Its one persons prediction senerio.

    There is a difference between social programs and socialism. However, there are still 1 or 2 people in the country who tie the word "social" to an all-in-one meaning of socialism. This is incorrect, and they never understand capitalism and freedom untill thier constitutional rights have been recklessly infringed upon. The new health laws does just that to us all. And more dramatically then any country of socialism as claimed buy normal citizens of those countries of socialism who watch us today. And i can say, they have told me personally they feel sorry for americans concerning the obamacare facts and are glad they are in the country they are in and not the USA.

    Some Socialism and Communism governments can and do make profits from the tax payer through the ACA type concept making middle class poorer while rationing EVERYONES health for government profit. Well, as long as there is no safty net for the people from government abuse. And this administration wants the national debt paid out of your healthcare payments in 8 to 10 years. Every citizen owes over 54k. Every tax payer owes over 150k. Then to keep the 2/3rds of the national debt that always accumulates paid down from healthcare profit money. And invest into sience, education and IT. All which the administration claims they want from healthcare profits. not possible without rationing and unfair high price.

    Tipping to that edge is the following example.

    Example: When every citizen of a certin state qualified for food stamps on a particular year, the federal government gave that state democrat run welfare system $144.00 dollars in food stamp funds per month for each of its citizens that qualified.

    The welfare system then claimed ridiculously lower poverty threshold levels and tells the recipient who receives ssi, and because of it, that they only get 10 food stamp dollars out of the $144.00. Thus, leaving not enough for true living expence.

    The welfare system then uses some of the remaing "profit" of $134 food stamp dollars to add more people (some deem as sheeple) into the welfare system for more profits in government funds. The welfare system then ask congress for more federal funding raises as more are on the system to claim funds needed. Somehow, this is the best plan these states can come up with to make money.

    Like time and time again as seen clearly on transparent c-span, when real U.S. congressmen are in power, they deny fund raising claims to the welfare programs if they are not dispursing funds to the people properly. Dispersing properly would lower funds needed, end hunger, save tax payer money while increasing the quality of life and proper funds. There is a clear difference between funds for the peoples benifit and swindled funds from the people in the form of tax and rationing for state or federal profit. I dont know any american who cannot see the diffrence when its being applied to them. Hunger, health rationing, lost quality of life, becoming poorer are all physical elements and proof of bad socialist/communist government who have greed.

    When President Richard Nixon signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972 on October 30, 1972 which created the SSI program, did anyone lose thier right to bare arms? Did anyone lose freedom of speach? Did anyone lose thier right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? This gave guaranteed funds to the people, stopped garnished wages, stopped government programs from having sticky fingers on the peoples benifits. Before the SSI program, funds were dispersed through the states welfare systems.

    "There is absolutely no reason of what-so-ever, why any government should have to infringe upon the constitutional rights of its own citizens to force or operate a well working globalized system into a peoples economy."

    And if you dont think so, just look at and read other countries constitutions. When you do, compare it to our todays economy of the current administration. Dont be suprised to find yourself saying "How lucky they are!...they have more freedom then we do!"

    There is a difference between a real american democrat/republican, a socialist democrat/republican, and a communist democrat/republican. Other countries show this by calling themselves in news as democrat/republican while at the same time calling themselves socialist/communist. The left is always called by one and the right always called by the other, even though the concept of agendas can be reversed on the sides of the parties.

    The ACA has absolutely no safty net nor protections to stop or limit the united states government from infringement and severe burden and abuse on we the people. Infact, there are laws that rquire it and many implimated already. We ALL know that. Who wants to sign up and enroll thier life away?

    Even if 9 million signed up, its fail, there are over 317 million americans.

    The aritcal writter could have made a better analysis in one short sentence.

    "The people revolt."

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 3:43 PM, natashagrace wrote:

    what a bunch of crap.. No one has even started paying for this or using it worth counting. why do Obamas people continue to lie to America.. Wake up people.. This man lies daily to you and you just take it.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 4:37 PM, swami242 wrote:

    Come on $600 Hundred Million dollars for the website? That is almost $2 Million dollars for every American right now. Cut your losses and set up a virtual health bank with 1 million dollars for a life time and work on a life time credit system. Give the people the opportunity to add more coverage. Also allow the people to deposit money in interest baring health accounts that can pay for the whole thing.

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 6:30 PM, fitness wrote:

    I have lost a lot of respect for the Fool over the last year. I was under the false impression that articles that were published under their name was thoroughly researched and produced by experts. Most of the articles lately are written by Political hacks or some "expert" that follows the Democratic creed. Ignore facts if they don't support talking points and bombard them with what sounds good, right or wrong. The Propagandist above doesn't even mention that more have lost their insurance than have received Obamacare to date. Don't you think might be an important event in discussing Obamacare?

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2014, at 8:40 PM, RealAmerican wrote:

    Then, again, it might be as terribly managed as reflected in the incompetence of the past few years. A $10 million web site costs us over $700 million, and even then, the monstrosity took longer than America required to win WW2. In any case, it misses the point: We cannot afford the handout schemes we already have, so we darn sure cannot afford yet another one.

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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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