Jon Cohn gets down to specifics:
A family making $50,000 will have to make serious sacrifices to find $10,000 [the amount you're likely to spend for an insurance policy under the new law]. But it’s better--light years better--than finding $25,000 or more [the amont you'd have to find without the new law]. It’s potentially the difference between having to give up your home, get an extra job or declare bankruptcy. Just knowing the bills that could come will be the difference between getting care you need--and skipping it, at grave risk to your health.
I keep waiting for this obvious fact to sink in. What Obama has done is force the existing system to insure 30 million more people at a modest cost, and to include a swathe of (still-insufficient) varieties and strategies of cost-control. This is huge - the biggest first year achievement of any president since Reagan. If you consider that he did this while also managing the steepest down-turn in decades, revamping America's image in the world, preventing a banking implosion, and prosecuting two unresolved wars in the face of almost deranged opposition, it's pretty damn impressive.
This seems clearer to me after a break from the Intertubes. Maybe others will feel the same way after the hols.