Tuesday, June 4, 2013

They Still Can't Stop Lying About Obamacare

As I pointed out on Saturday, Forbes.com hack Avik Roy is paid to lie quite professionally about things like Obamacare raising premiums 146% in California, and did a great job of it right up until the point it took Ezra Klein one paragraph to bury him.

Roy got his 146 percent by heading to eHealthInsurance.com, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

Roy, caught red-handed, has decided to respond by simply move the goalposts and declaring victory.

To Ezra, it’s galling that three-fourths of his compatriots can pay $109 for health insurance, because 12 percent were not eligible for the plan, and another 14 percent had to pay somewhat more. This is why Obamacare is a great achievement, he says, because Health Net will have to serve all comers, regardless of prior health status.

And I appreciate Ezra’s perspective. I, too, am a supporter of universal coverage, so I understand Ezra’s passion for providing health insurance to the sick. But what we didn’t know last week—and we do now—is how much more the healthy will have to pay for that insurance, under Obamacare. In Orange County, where Irvine is located, the three-fourths of the 25-year-old population that is in good health will have their premiums jacked by 95 percent.

Same false argument, dressed up in different misleading numbers.  Now Roy has found a narrow, specific category where premiums will rise for people, but that's a far cry from his "everyone will see premiums go up 64%-146%" claim earlier, plus 25-year olds will be eligible for being on their parents plans, and if you're under 30, you can get catastrophic coverage still, which exactly addresses the point Roy was attacking (that Obamacare forces young people to buy expensive insurance). But he can't leave without declaring victory on all those intellectually bankrupt liberals...

But in the end, I’m glad that we’re finally having the intellectually honest argument about Obamacare that we should have been having all along. No, Obamacare won’t decrease the cost of your insurance by $2,500 a year. Indeed, it could raise it by that much. No, under Obamacare, you can’t keep your plan, if you like your plan. Instead, you’ll be forced to buy a costlier plan with add-ons that you neither need nor want.
If you’re a leftie, you likely think that’s a good thing. But you should have said so all along. The fact is that Obamacare was sold to the public under false pretenses, and the chickens are now coming home to roost.

So now Roy has completely knocked all the pieces off the board and has claimed victory because you lied first, liberals so I win!

Jonathan Cohn sinks this argument handily:

Roy is no dummy. He’s well aware of these facts. He could have acknowledged them, and went on to make the case that the benefits are not worth those costs—that it’s fundamentally unfair to ask young, healthy, affluent people to pay more, or that Obamacare’s whole scheme is just so inefficient as to make it worse than the alternative.1 As Aaron Carroll wrote the other day, Obamacare involves real trade-offs: Higher-income people have to pay higher taxes, the health care industry has to endure lower payments from Medicare, and—yes—some young, healthy, affluent people have to pay more for private insurance. Those of us who support the law believe that's a worthwhile price to pay to help achieve universal coverage, given the lack of politically viable alternatives. Roy disagrees, I know, and he could have made that argument in a nuanced way last week.

But Roy didn’t do that. And while all of us are susceptible to hyperbole or selective interpretation from time to time, Roy's column was something else entirely. He plucked out two examples of people who would pay more in California, pretended they were emblematic of the system as a whole, then accused other writers of being irresponsible. His argument hasn't held up well to scrutiny, but it's part of the political conversation and, I'm sure, will remain so for a while.

.So the only logical explanation is that Avik Roy is lying professionally.  Like I said, paid to lie.

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