If you've lost Saturday Night Live, you've probably lost the country, at least if you're a liberal. When last Saturday's cold open on SNL lampooned the confusion of the Obamacare rollout, my immediate thought was... finally, it's OK to make fun of Obama and his idiotic policies.
One of the most telling jokes in the bit was when a plump young lady came to the podium with Obama and happily exclaimed how "psyched" she was for "free healthcare." I think why this joke was funny is that there are millions of people out there who actually think that healthcare is going to be free under Obamacare. Obviously, it's not... in fact, the individual mandate will impose substantial new costs on the previously uninsured, primarily young people who may rationally have chosen otherwise to do without health insurance on the grounds that the risk of major illness or injury (relatively miniscule) is not worth the cost in terms of sacrificed spending on other types of good or services.*
But people do think it will be free. So, you reporters out there, let me give you a hint at an interesting story line for, say, March or April of 2014. Go out and ask insurance companies who are part of the exchanges (a) how many of the new policyholders failed to make their first payment? And (b) how many of the new policyholders, after making the first payment, defaulted in the first six months and thus lost coverage again.
I think the answer will be... A LOT.
*As I said to my wife, a 25 year-old with student loans and a job as a salesman at the AT&T kiosk in the Mall who is also trying to start a real estate/home improvement business on the side, renovating and flipping old houses (I actually met this guy when I was buying my new phone last week) is not going to sacrifice buying a new iPhone in order to buy health insurance that, 999 times out of a thousand, is a bad bet for him. Think of the new T-Mobile ads and all the pressure on young people to stay cool by getting the next new phone. Do you really think young people are going to keep their 2009 Blackberry an extra year or two just so they can get health insurance? Not a chance.