Obama, Clinton Talk ACA

In a discussion with Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama claimed to be confident that people will sign up for insurance through the marketplaces once they see how affordable it is.

The first day of the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative closed on Tuesday with a discussion between Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on the Affordable Care Act.

The session was used by Obama and Clinton as outreach to increase understanding of the ACA and what happens on Oct. 1 when the insurance marketplaces open enrollment. Obama also took the time to address why he had been so focused on passing health reform legislation when the country was facing a depression.

Clinton pointedly asked why Obama didn’t focus more on the economy when he took office at the beginning of the last recession.

“It’s important to remember that health care is the economy,” Obama said. “A massive part of our economy.”

Obama argued that fixing America’s “hugely inefficient” and wildly expensive health care system was a form of deficit reduction.

“If we spent the same on health care as Canada or Great Britain did, or Japan, with the same or better outcomes, that would essentially remove our structural deficit,” Obama said.

The president then turned his attention to the insurance marketplaces, explaining how they worked to lower costs with healthy people subsidizing the sick ones with the expectation that when a healthy person gets sick, he or she will be helped out by another healthy person.

“This only works if young people show up, even if they only buy the cheapest plan to claim their tax credits,” Clinton said. “That’s why they’re doing so much outreach.”

Clinton pointed out that by mandating everyone has health insurance, hospitals won’t be treating as many uninsured patients who can’t pay. He called the fact that hospitals need to charge people more to recoup costs on uninsured patients a hidden subsidy on those with insurance.

Although the ACA is being widely called Obamacare, the president claimed not to care if he has ownership as long as it works. He gave the example of a story out of Kentucky, where they were at a county fair, signing people up for the marketplace. One guy went up, saw the rates and signed up. He turned to his friend and said, “This is great. This is a lot better than Obamacare!”

Rather than attempt to disabuse every piece of misinformation out there, the Obama administration has simply been trying to drive people to the website to see what’s being offered.

“We’re confident that when people look and see they can get high-quality, affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they will sign up,” Obama said.