An NBC news article which is creating waves, perhaps a tsunami, today says that at least half, and perhaps as many as 80 percent, of American who buy their insurance through the individual market will lose their coverage due to Obamacare – and that the administration knew that this would be the case throughout the past few years when the president was repeatedly assuring Americans that “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan.”
The left is offering two main defenses against these charges: that there is typically high turnover in the individual market anyway, and that the story isn’t really news.
Let’s dispense with both:
Data on turnover in the individual market is difficult to find (and recent data all but impossible). However, a 2008 paper (using 2000-2004 data) published in Health Affairs magazine suggests that about 17 percent of individually insured Americans would be without coverage a year later. Interestingly, the authors conclude that sick people are about as likely to lose coverage through large group policies as through individual policies, and more likely to lose coverage through small groups. (This is probably a result of sick people losing their jobs.) In any case, the idea that up to three quarters of individually insured Americans might lose coverage over a short time without Obamacare is laughable.
Furthermore, turnover in the individual insurance market is generally voluntary, rather than coerced. It can happen when a person who buys his own insurance falls on difficult financial times and gives up that insurance. In this sense, the Obama economy is causing higher turnover in the individual insurance market – with Obamacare itself substantially responsible for the cutbacks in full-time hiring.
Insurance turnover would also be expected when a consumer can find a more preferable blend of policy cost and quality, or when she gets a job which includes health insurance coverage. In either case, the turnover is because the consumer voluntarily chose a situation in which she believes she is better off.
Nothing could be further from the case with Obamacare, where even the pro-Obama media is offering dozens of horror stories of policy cancelations and price increases, dwarfing the handful of rare cases of someone made better off by Obamacare – which the administration unfailingly trots out as press conference props.
The left’s other rebuttal to the NBC news story is even more laughable: They argue that since The Hill reported something similar in 2010, this is “old news.” It’s the Benghazi defense: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” But nobody outside of the Beltway and a few policy wonks noticed the 2010 story – because the sycophants at NBC news and every other old-line news organization did not pick it up. Just the fact that the news outlets which provide such a large percentage of Americans with their information are now covering the story makes the story far more significant in terms of political impact.
When the late-night comedians and Saturday Night Live are making fun of you, you know the story is reaching the masses, in a way that Obama surely thought would never happen.