If historical precedent is anything to go by, the Tea Party will be going round saying "I told you so" and trumpeting an "Obamacare failure" by February. They will point to the inability of patients to book routine tests mandated under the scheme (mammograms etc) as evidence that this "socialized" healthcare system has led to their predicted "death panel waiting lists" or some such nonsense. But this will be evidence of success, not failure.
Look back to Britain in 1948. In July that year the comprehensive National Health Service, free at the point of delivery, started. Prior there had been a mixture of lower paid workers (but not their families) insured by the LLoyd George 1911 National Insurance scheme; those who could afford private insurance and those who would have to pay out of pocket. (In a similar way US patients are now split between medicare/medicaid/VA; the insured and the uninsured).
The pent up demand for health services can be judged from this comment from the receptionist at a GP's surgery (these primary care physicians act as a first point of contact and "gatekeeper" to specialist services):
Mary Dowlding joined the Warders Medical Surgery in Tonbridge, Kent, as a receptionist on the day the NHS was launched.
"I arrived in the morning and the queue was from the door, down the street and disappeared into the High Street," she said.
"I think they came because they wondered what was happening and they wanted to see if they were going to have free medicine. It was such a relief, particularly to women with young children who could not afford to call the doctor out."
Now there are significant differences between July 1948 in the UK and January 2014 in the USA. In the UK the pool of uninsured and its proportion of the population was much higher than the number of newly covered in the USA in the New Year. On the other hand the UK still had food rationing in 1948 which perversely improved the overall health of the nation. Today there are far more routine tests which will be available for newly covered Americans and, dare I say, a likelihood of much underlying illnesses associated with poor lifestyles.
The essential aim of "Obamacare" is not to extend insurance coverage; it is to ensure those previously unable will be able to access health care including routine diagnostic tests. Its success will be measured in those who are now able to get long term problems treated and those whose lives may well be saved by a routine test for cancer or diabetes. In short, how many Americans get treatments and tests that have previously been unaffordable for them.
So come January it is reasonable to expect there to be a surge in demand for appointments for these tests and to see a primary care physician or specialist. Those previous patients expecting to be able to book an annual or two yearly test will find the clinic is booked solid for weeks ahead with the newly covered. Reports will filter back to the GOP who will claim this shows Obamacare has broken the US health system.
Prepare for this in two ways. On the personal front, make sure you book your routine tests due in 2014 ASAP. On the political front, expect this surge in demand. Proclaim it as the success for the ACA it will be.