November 2, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Affordable Care Act, Lies, Foes, Reporting, And Red Herrings
This week we learned only 6 people enrolled in an insurance plan on Day 1 of the rollout of HealthCare.gov. We also learned that President Obama stretched the truth or flat-out lied (depending on your political persuasion) when he said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”
We have journalists, left-leaning and right-leaning, parsing Obama’s words for their own political purposes. Did Obama lie? When did he say it? Was it before the ACA passed or after or both?
If you believe in a rigid proof for lie or no lie, then yes, you can say Obama lied. And I can respond with, “Why does it matter and what does it mean going forward?” If you think only 6 people enrolling in an insurance plan on Day 1 is a great story, then so be it. And I will respond again with, “Why does it matter and what does it mean going forward?” I’m here to tell you these two “issues” are red herrings. Neither of them will change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is law. And neither of them have anything to do with the law going forward.
There’s only two reasons why anyone would care to know how many people signed up on Day 1, and neither of those reasons help the ACA to succeed. You are either a political hack looking to validate your preexisting condition known as Obamacare Derangement, or you are a “journalist” looking for a juicy headline that isn’t news and tells us nothing. We already knew the website rollout was a colossal failure, is it really a surprise only 6 people signed up for a plan on Day 1? The real test will be how many people sign up by next March, because that’s how long they have (another 5 months) before facing any penalties. If the administration does not sort out the “glitches” soon, then yes, you will have some serious reporting to do that matters to people. But sensationalism is the only reason to report Day 1 statistics of a website everyone knows is not working correctly. But yes, that’s how the media works, so I should expect nothing more.
Did Obama lie when he said you could keep your plan? In an absolute sense, yes. But the reality is over 80% of Americans get their insurance through their employer. Employers are not dropping those plans, at least not in large numbers, and in most cases the changes are at the margins. If this turns out not to be the case, I’ll be sure to write that article in the future, but nothing we have seen so far (except anecdotal examples filtered through a partisan lens) paints a contrary picture. But it does appear roughly 5% of Americans will be subject to this “lie” and they will not be able to keep their plan. In most cases, these plans they so dearly love are not really health care insurance at all. They allow for a few doctor visits and not much more (except false peace of mind). Many Americans have faced bankruptcy due to medical costs even when they had insurance. That happens when the insurance one carries is not really insurance at all. So while Obama might have technically lied, and people will not be able to keep these types of plans, is that really a bad thing? If you ask me, that is the real story here. But instead, the headlines will continue to revolve around what Obama said, when he said it, and if it’s a lie or not. Because that’s how the media works.