Not since the era of the debt-ceiling explainer have we seen a subject so well explained yet so misunderstood. Yes, we are talking about the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration has done nothing but explain why people should sign up, and Republicans have done little but explain why people should not sign up. And yet this is how many insured people know what is going on:
So, basically nothing at all.
Maybe the problem is that with so much explaining, people don't know which explaining is right for them. Here is a guide, our second attempt to explain the explainers, to expedite your road to Obamacare enlightenment.
Let's make this painless. What is the one thing I should read about the Affordable Care Act to understand what the heck is going on?
That's a tough one. The reason everyone has such a hard time explaining Obamacare is that it is a very complex law, with many different pieces that affect many people in many different ways. You could conceivably read 10 explainers about Obamacare and have them all explain a different aspect of the health-care law, leaving you a bit befuddled. NPR's Affordable Care Act explainer is, in truth, 12 different explainers.
However, there are several explainers that endeavor to illuminate all.
- The Washington Post made a two-minute video that tries to explain everything.
- The White House tried to boil everything down to 214 words.
- Some person on Reddit made a very thorough explainer that breaks things down based on when parts of the law go into effect.
- The Kaiser Family Foundation made a seven-minute video (super long) -- but with cartoons (that's better)!
- Slate brought together a former White House policy adviser and a Brookings Institute fellow to explain the law. Teamwork!
Wait, wait, stop right now. You're throwing way too much information at me. Tell me where I can find an Obamacare explainer that tells me exactly what I need to know -- and only that.
Can do. Here is a list of explainers that deal with very specific aspects of the health-care law. Feel free to pick the one that looks like it applies to you, or if you're a curious sort, read them all.
Are you from California?
Then you might want to read this explainer from KQED, which explains California's state-run insurance marketplace, and what you need to know based on your employment and insurance status.
Do you have parents who live in a different state than you that you're trying to enroll?
Then check out this story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which tells the story of Illinois resident Stacey Calvert -- and her newly enrolled parents in Nevada.
Want to know how the Medicaid expansion will affect state budgets?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a lot of data and charts about how state finances will stand after offering Medicaid to thousands of uninsured and impoverished residents.
Do you like quizzes?
Do you want to know how much health insurance for you could cost under Obamacare?
Here's a subsidy calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Do you want to know how the Medicaid expansion will affect New Jersey?
Here is an explainer of how Medicaid expansion was approved in New Jersey, although it failed in many other states with Republican political leadership.
Do you want to know if your state expanded Medicaid -- and if you are eligible?
Why isn't my state expanding Medicaid?
The Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act in June 2012 made the Medicaid expansion optional. Here's an explanation of that decision.
Do you want to know more about people who know nothing about the law?
Alec MacGillis at the New Republic wrote a piece last June about how little people in Sewanee, Tenn., knew about the law. WebMD has an article from this week about the potential ramifications of so many people not understanding the new law.
Do you want to know more about the individual mandate?
The Huffington Post explains what the individual mandate is and more importantly, how much it could cost if you ignore it.
Wait, I could get fined? Do I need to buy insurance?
Here's a flowchart that will tell you if you need to pay a penalty after March 31 if you don't sign up for Obamacare.
But wait! I haven't signed up yet. Can I have an extension.
Only if you've already started your application. Here are the details about what to expect after March 31.
Do you want a post-campaign book blow-by-blow of the politics that have shaped the Affordable Care Act and its rollout?
Then you should probably take a look at Politico's ebook about the Affordable Care Act. It includes a chapter titled, "Beware the Obamacare Talking Points."
Why do Republicans not like the Affordable Care Act?
Here is the Republican National Committee's argument for why they don't like Obamacare.
How are Democrats responding to the Republicans?
During the 2013 holiday season, the Democratic National Committee started a Web site called "The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle," which provides the liberal response to many of the things posed in the RNC's argument against the health-care law.
I keep seeing these ads about how awful Obamacare is on TV. What's up with that?
The Affordable Care Act is going to come up a lot this election season. Americans for Prosperity is launching a big ad campaign in states with close Senate races focusing on the health-care law. Here's a good explanation of why the organization is doing that. The Washington Post's Fact Checker has assessed the veracity of a few of these ads.
Do you wonder why we passed the Affordable Care Act in the first place?
If you think we were just fine without this complicated law, you might want to check out this chart from the American Public Health Association. It explains some of the problems with our health-care system that Obamacare hopes to address.
Are you retired?
Here is what people over 65 need to know about the Affordable Care Act, courtesy of MarketWatch.
Do you want to know what the landscape of the new insurance markets and Medicaid expansion looks like -- in one map?
Al-Jazeera America made maps that show which states set up their own exchanges, which states are letting the federal government run the show, and which states are expanding Medicaid.
Are your favorite keys on the computer keyboard Ctrl and F?
NPR lets you search their entire Obamacare guide with a search bar.
Do you think data explain everything?
Do you want to know what everyone else is asking about the Affordable Care Act?
Insurance provider Kaiser Permanente has answers to the top 10 questions they get asked.
Do you want to hear Zach Galifianakis talk about Obamacare?
As strange as that sounds, we can make it happen.
Do you want to hear Ryan Seacrest talk about Obamacare?
Again, sounds weird, but thanks to President Obama's big push to get sign-ups in the last few weeks before March 31, we can make that happen.
Have you heard about the Obamacare "bailout"?!
Like everything to do with the Affordable Care Act, it's a lot more complex than the rhetoric would intimate. Sarah Kliff has a good explanation of what these "risk corridors" are.
Who are these navigators?
In the last-minute rush to get people signed up for insurance, navigators have been mentioned a lot. Here's an explainer from Northeast Ohio that explains what exactly they do.
Why was the Healthcare.gov Web site so bad?
Building a complex Web site to implement a complex law turns out to be exceedingly complex. Here's an infographic from the New York Times that explains how Healthcare.gov was supposed to work -- and why that didn't happen.
Who is Obamacare girl?
I feel like a bad person giving this information to you, but here is the explanation of the Obamacare girl mystery that happened last fall.
"Biden visits New Hampshire with diminished expectations for 2016" — Zachary Goldfarb, The Washington Post
"Fed's Yellen Focuses on Women at Event" — Victoria, McGrane, The Wall Street Journal