The ultimate health care lie by the numbers

If there’s one thing that’s annoying about health care (okay, there’s a lot of things) it is how the Republicans have been lying so brazenly it’s about how the ACA was passed in a secretive process.  You only had to be alive in 2009-10 to realize that’s not true in the least.  Yet, they keep pretending otherwise.  The NYT runs the numbers and compares to the Republican process, which, of course, has been extraordinarily secretive:

And, as long as we’re on the subject of lies, no, the ACA exchanges are not in a hopeless death spiral.  That’s a pretty big lie.  Paul Waldman:

They have to start by acknowledging that despite their cries that the ACA is in a death spiral, that it’s a disaster and that its implosion is imminent, things on the individual market in fact are not as bad as you might think. Here’s a report out today from the Kaiser Family Foundation on how the markets are doing so far this year:

Early results from 2017 suggest the individual market is stabilizing and insurers in this market are regaining profitability. Insurer financial results show no sign of a market collapse. First quarter premium and claims data from 2017 support the notion that 2017 premium increases were necessary as a one-time market correction to adjust for a sicker-than-expected risk pool. Although individual market enrollees appear on average to be sicker than the market pre-ACA, data on hospitalizations in this market suggest that the risk pool is stable on average and not getting progressively sicker as of early 2017. Some insurers have exited the market in recent years, but others have been successful and expanded their footprints, as would be expected in a competitive marketplace.

In other words, insurers are making profits in the individual market, which means that they’ll keep offering plans and won’t have to raise premiums as much as some have feared.

But what about all those places where there’s only one insurer, or even where the last insurer has pulled out? Funny thing about that: It turns out, as Brian Dew and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research found when they examined the data, that it’s almost entirely a phenomenon of Republican states. In states controlled by Democrats — which accepted the expansion of Medicaid and worked to make their exchanges function properly — the individual market is quite healthy. It’s only in those places where the state governments have been trying to sabotage the ACA from the beginning that they have screwed over their own constituents and left them with few insurance options.

Waldman follows with a plea for Republicans to actually do the right thing and work with Democrats to fix the marketplaces in the ways they need fixing and, you know, help people.  Not holding my breath for that.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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