The article is called “Obamacare Paradox: Unsubsidized by Satisfied Insurance Customers,” and it suggests that people who got their insurance away from the Obamacare exchanges are surprisingly satisified with Obamacare – hence the paradox, i.e. why should someone who doesn’t benefit from the law like the law. The article goes like this:
1. More than 80% of the people who have gotten insurance in the exchanges are getting subsidies. That’s more than 4 million out of the 5 million who have signed up. They seem happy.Ok, let’s take this apart. First, she provides no evidence of happiness. In fact, I would counter that people are not happy or else more than 5 million people (of the 49 million uninsured) would have signed up and polls wouldn’t continue to show a majority favoring repeal.
2. Critics complain that the subsidies are an attempt to hook people on subsidies, but even though only 20% of people signing up are not get subsidies, that doesn’t mean that those who aren’t getting subsidies are unhappy with Obamacare or that they staying away in protest.
3. Critics say that the $1 trillion in tax increases in the bill will depress economic activity, and will cost 2.5 million jobs, which are valid concerns, but the subsidies make the law work and people like the subsidies.
4. Even people who don’t purchase through the exchanges like the law.
Secondly, as for asserting that the people who got subsidies are happy, well yeah, people who get subsidies will not complain because they’re getting something for a lot cheaper than they otherwise would.
More interesting though is her assertion that the unsubsidized are happy. To make this argument, she relies on interviews with people. She admits that ancedotal evidence doesn’t prove anything, but then she goes ahead and relies on a couple interviews. She even says that perhaps with many more interviews, the anecdotal evidence will be persuasive, but that’s totally flawed logic. Anecdotal evidence is meaningless because it cannot be extrapolated to a larger population.
Moreover, the anecdotal example she uses is horrible. First, the claim she makes is that people who do not use the exchange are happy with Obamacare. But the woman she talks about actually did use the exchange. What she did was shop through the exchange to find a policy and then she called the insurance company directly to get that particular policy. Yet, Foley presents this woman as someone who bought insurance completely outside of the exchange system.
Further, the reason the woman is happy is because she has a pre-existing condition which kept her from getting insurance in the past. So she’s one of the 5 million people the law was specifically intended to help. Of course she’s happy with the changes! But don’t pretend that this woman is somehow representative of the public at large.
Interestingly, Foley tries to make her seem representative by quoting an HHS figure, which claims that between 19% and 50% of people have pre-existing conditions according to insurers. AND, the collateral effect of that affects those people’s families. Really? There are 2.7 people per family in the US on average. So if the collateral effects are true then between 51.3% and 135% of Americans are affected by this issue. Does that make sense to you?
Even taking just the 19% figure is obviously false. How do we know? Because the uninsurance rate is ony 15% total. Moreover, we’ve been told that there are only 5 million to 9 million people who are denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. That’s a maximum of 2.9% of the population. So what is happening here is that someone who is in the 2.9% of the population for whom the law was specifically written went through the Exchange except for the final step of ordering the policy, and they are being sold as somehow representative of half the population and as someone who had no interaction with the Exchange.
Like I said, Foley has generally been very good at diagnosing the problems with Obamacare honestly and logically. She does research and reads the law. She doesn’t fall for public relations lies. Indeed, she hasn’t been alarmist or an apologist, but this article struck me as really stunning.
In fact, when you think about reality as compared to the spin here, what you see is that Obamacare is doing what conservatives said: it’s caught on only with people who are getting subsidies or those who are uninsured. Beyond that, it’s got pathetic market penetration. And with the economic damage being done with the tax hikes and the job losses, this is a law will never gain popularity.
Finally, as for the idea that the subsidies are good because they make the law work, maybe that fact alone is proof that the law shouldn't work. Keep in mind that the Inquisition didn't work without torture, but that doesn't make torture a good thing nor does it mean the Inquisition should have worked.