There is an interesting discussion happening on Get Rich Slowly, prompted by a post of J.D.'s concerning the ridiculous obstacle course that is Health Insurance in the U.S.A. I've learned a few things from the comments, including that joining AARP - and insuring through them - may actually be a good solution for me and Mr. P. It's certainly something to look into, since my employer's health plans are not exactly cause for celebration.
Read the article and discussion: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2012/04/30/hunting-for-health-insurance/
Just for clarification, and surely no surprise to any more-than-occasional reader, I support the Affordable Care Act as the best attempt yet to rationalize the American system of buying health insurance. It's certainly not the perfect solution, as it leaves a great deal unattended-to, but no previous administration has been able to pass anything that addressed as many aspects of the problem.
If it were possible for a single person (or heck, for a single committee) to sit down and figure out all the variables and account for all the contingencies of health insurance and health services, and to then say "this is what the New Deal is going to look like," and to apply it impartially across all states, no doubt we could do much better.
But since we don't have a single Benevolent Dictator and are coping with 1000 fractious elected officials instead, this may be the best we can do for now.
Given that every state has its own set of laws and that in many cases state laws don't apply to insurers - who may be governed not by the laws of the states in which they operate but by the laws of the states in which the insurance companies' headquarters reside, or by Federal laws - I do tend to think that a top-down solution would be more, and more swiftly, efficacious than the multi-decade slog we will be in for if the ACA is not allowed to stand.
I for one know several people who are waiting to see if certain provisions survive until their activation date in 2014. If these provisions DO survive, some of these people may be able to get health insurance for the first time in their adult lives.
Once we work out the worst of the health insurance conundrum, maybe we'll have a little mental agility left to address the health services problem.
Just for kicks, here's a bit of historical perspective on health-insurance mandates. http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/102620/individual-mandate-history-affordable-care-act
And here is an in-depth look at what, exactly, the ACA sets out to do. http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/vb8vs/eli5_what_exactly_is_obamacare_and_what_did_it/c530lfx