Review: The Consumer Reports Guide to Obamacare

Recognizing that Americans are going to have to deal with Obamacare on Tuesday, even though most don’t want to, Consumer Reports magazine has published a helpful 11-page article explaining the legislation. It’s no surprise that a private company has produced a better explanation than anything the federal or state governments have produced. Unfortunately, not even CR‘s well-written guide provides much comfort.

The few bits of good news: if you get insurance through your job, you won’t need to do much (unless your employer cancels your insurance coverage and dumps you onto the Obamacare exchanges, which many are doing). Consumer Reports also explains that there will be few changes that affect Medicare patients (though it leaves out the fact that Obamacare damages Medicare and hurts Medicare Advantage patients most of all.)

The bad news: families with several people on the same employer-provided health insurance plan may miss out on Obamacare subsidies–a glitch that Consumer Report describes as “unfair and may need to be fixed with new legislation.” In addition, of the health insurance plans offered by major insurers, few reviewed by Consumer Reports meet the “Best Value” standard–tough for those individuals forced onto the exchanges.

While explaining how Obamacare is designed to work, Consumer Reports does not provide much to explain the technical problems consumers are likely to experience on Oct. 1, when the exchanges are meant to be up and running (though no exchange is actually ready). In an unfortunate accident of timing, the Obamacare review appears in the annual “Best of the Year” issue. Obamacare is already among the year’s worst deals.