Tag: President Obama

ObamaCare signups: More than just the exchange numbers

April 17th, 2014 by
All that hyperbole for nothing!
All that hyperbole for nothing!

President Obama just announced that 8 million people signed up for coverage on federal and state health insurance exchanges during the initial open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. That’s higher than originally projected, and much higher than how things looked when the glitch-filled healthcare.gov sputtered out of the gate. Cynics will pick at that accomplishment, claiming that it overstates the law’s impact by counting people who already had insurance, and those who don’t end up paying their premiums.

ObamaCare is a complex law (remember the big excitement about how many pages it takes to spell out) and it’s much more than just the exchange websites.

Focusing just on the 8 million who have signed up through the exchanges actually seriously underestimates ObamaCare’s impact on the number of people with insurance. Consider:

  • Close to 4 million people have signed up for Medicaid since October. It would have been more if opponents hadn’t blocked Medicaid expansion in so many states
  • Millions have signed up for private health insurance outside of exchanges: through brokers or directly with the health insurers
  • Many formerly uninsured young adults are insured through their parents up to age 26 instead of being dropped

There’s also another way to look at the folks who already had insurance who have signed up on the exchange. ObamaCare opponents have made a big deal out of people having their plans canceled because those plans didn’t meet the new law’s requirements. We’re suddenly told how everyone loves their existing plan –something I never heard touted prior to ObamaCare. Considering the hassle involved in getting a policy through an exchange, one could reasonably assume that people are getting better, cheaper coverage than what they had before. Even if that doesn’t increase the number of insured people, it improves the overall level of insurance within the population.

 

photo credit: Fresh Conservative via photopin cc

By healthcare consultant David E. Williams of the Health Business Group

Despite botched ObamaCare rollout, public still trusts Democrats on health care

December 16th, 2013 by

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The AP is running a  story purporting to show a “potentially bigger problem for President Obama’s health care overhaul” than the botched launch of the federal insurance exchange: “Americans who already have coverage and aren’t looking for any more government help are blaming the law for their rising premiums and deductibles.”

The basis for the story is a new AP-commissioned poll, which shows that those who are experiencing rising premiums or deductibles associate those changes with the implementation of ObamaCare. The story goes on and on about the problems this represents for the President, even bringing in a noted Harvard professor to reinforce the point and piling on a few anecdotes for good measure.

But another reading of the results could lead to almost the opposite conclusion.

Why do I write that?

Respondents were asked, “Which party do you trust to do a better job of handling health care?”

Answer: 32 percent said Democrats and 22 percent Republicans. In other words, if everyone thinks that the rollout of the exchange has been terrible (which they do), and a high percentage of people associate rising premiums with ObamaCare, and have heard unrelenting criticism of ObamaCare from the GOP, how come these same people still place much higher trust in the Democrats? Maybe because the average person is a little more sophisticated than those who are looking for a sexy angle on a news story.

What’s going on? The answer is that it’s easier to follow the current narrative that ObamaCare is a big disaster than to engage in independent thinking. The poll is biased and so is the interpretation. Here are a couple examples:

  • The poll asks about changes in job-based insurance coverage, but almost all the changes are negative ones, e.g., is your premium rising, is your deductible increasing, is your plan being discontinued, is spousal coverage being restricted, are fewer types of medical care being covered? (Only one positive change is asked about: whether the plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care. And interestingly, more people (21%) answered yes to that question than the 18% who answered yes to the question about fewer types of care being covered.) If all the questions about plan changes are negative and people associate change with ObamaCare then of course it’s going to look like people are blaming ObamaCare for problems. If all the questions had been positive, (e.g., can adult children remain on my plan longer, is spousal coverage being increased, are preventive services being covered with no co-pay?) then the story would have to say people are crediting ObamaCare for the changes
  • A significant macro story is that medical inflation is decreasing. In facts, medical inflation was lower last year than it’s been in 50 years. Maybe the poll should have asked about the relationship of that with ObamaCare. That could have captured some the subtleties beyond just “is your premium rising?” Maybe the story should have highlighted the fact that 30 percent of people in the poll said their premiums were not increasing or made some comparison to prior years

Bottom line: sloppy and irresponsible reporting on the part of the AP.

photo credit: HonestReporting.com via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.