The Affordable Care Act and the American Disconnect

The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (aka “ObamaCare”) will, for better or for worse, take a large number of Americans who currently can’t afford health insurance and either give them insurance or else give them money to buy insurance with. Obviously, if you’re a person like that there’s a lot to like about this law.

But Washington, D.C., political and media circles don’t involve many people like that. Or even many people who know any people like that. So even though this town contains plenty of folks who perfectly sincerely want to help low-income Americans get health insurance (the law wouldn’t have happened otherwise), it’s still seen in political journalism as primarily a political story about “winners” and “losers” in various congressional, media, legal, and electoral arenas. But for millions of currently uninsured Americans, it’s a real-world story about a potential financial windfall or fiasco depending on how the Supreme Court rules. Alec MacGillis ventured out in the real world to talk to impacted people, and the story is both emotionally touching and politically telling.

The key punchline is that, basically, the folks with the most to gain from the new law are barely—if at all—aware that it even exists.