If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, it's tempting to observe that congressional Republicans have gone stark, raving mad. My own GOP congressman Rep. Tim Griffin recently boasted in a column about having "voted more than 30 times to repeal all or parts of Obamacare."
Only in politics does somebody expect praise for sheer futility.
In the column, Griffin quoted the Washington Examiner, one of those tycoon-funded right-wing propaganda publications reporting that "cost estimates from 17 of the nation's largest insurance companies indicate that health insurance premiums will grow an average of 100 percent under Obamacare, and that some will soar more than 400 percent."
Yeah, well the results are starting to come in. In California and New York, the nation's two most populous states, which have set up health care exchanges, premiums have dropped sharply below Congressional Budget Office projections.
According to the New York Times, "State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower."
Similar savings have been achieved in California. They can be expected anywhere that large numbers of Americans can be persuaded to buy into the program and quit playing healthcare roulette.
But then that's how insurance works -- auto insurance, life insurance, homeowners' insurance, ALL insurance. By spreading the risk, you lower the cost to individual customers.
That's the basic insight that led Benjamin Franklin to found the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance Against Loss by Fire back in 1752. The more people purchase private health insurance through Obamacare, the lower their premiums and the lower the eventual cost to taxpayers.
A certain kind of Republican, however, still doesn't get it. With Red State politicians dragging their feet, and Republican congressmen telling reporters they'll refuse to help with Obamacare, the short-term rollout could be bumpy.
Partisan passions aside, people want and need reliable health insurance. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies need it as well.
Insurance companies are sure to back the plan too. Since Obamacare mandates 80 percent of premiums must be spent on benefits, the only way the insurance industry can enhance profits is by finding more customers. It's the American way.
Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons can be reached at email@example.com.