CA and Obamacare: Media offer happy talk, not analysis

May 31, 2013

By Chris Reed

new-york-post-obamacareLast week, when the California agency that has the lead role in implementing Obamacare announced the rate structure for various insurance plans to be offered beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the media jumped to a lot of conclusions — conclusions flattering to Obamacare, as one would expect from a media that mostly waited until after the health care overhaul was adopted to point out its many immense flaws. (The New York Times put out a devastating analysis — but it was three weeks after Obamacare was signed into law!)

On California’s version of Obamacare, here was what the Los Angeles Times emphasized early in its story:

“‘These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,’ said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state agency implementing the healthcare law.”

Here was what The New York Times’ Paul Krugman emphasized:

” … important new evidence — especially from California, the law’s most important test case — suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success. … the California bids are in — that is, insurers have submitted the prices at which they are willing to offer coverage on the state’s newly created Obamacare exchange. And the prices, it turns out, are surprisingly low. A handful of healthy people may find themselves paying more for coverage, but it looks as if Obamacare’s first year in California is going to be an overwhelmingly positive experience.”

LAT and Krugman: What they didn’t mention

Not so fast, say two journalists who have written extensively about Obamacare, and not from inside the tank that houses the mainstream media.

This is from Avik Roy of Forbes:

“If you’re a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month. (That’s the median monthly premium across California’s 19 insurance rating regions.)

“The next cheapest plan, the ‘bronze’ comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on (NASDAQ:EHTH), the average cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92. In other words, for the average 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

“Under Obamacare, only people under the age of 30 can participate in the slightly cheaper catastrophic plan. So if you’re 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261. But on eHealthInsurance, the average cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.

“For both 25-year-olds and 40-year-olds, then, Californians under Obamacare who buy insurance for themselves will see their insurance premiums double.”

This is from Peter Suderman of Reason:

“… this good news is not as good as it might sound, because it’s based on a misleading comparison: next year’s individual market rates with this year’s small-employer plans. A more useful comparison would be with this year’s individual-market premiums. And what that comparison reveals is that rate shock is real, and that the hikes are far larger than the comparison with small-group rates would suggest.”

Karma time: Bay Area to be hardest hit

The good news here is that as much as the media has been cheerleading for Obamacare, it remains highly unpopular — even before it kicks in. When people actually have to pay much more for insurance than they used to, the backlash is likely to reach a whole new level.

And here in California, the hardest-hit will be Obama’s biggest fans. Karma, baby! Avik Roy of Forbes says Obamacare’s impact on premiums for 40-year-olds “is steepest in the San Francisco Bay area, especially in the counties north of San Francisco, like Marin, Napa, and Sonoma.”

More from Roy:

“Supporters of Obamacare justified passage of the law because one insurer in California [Anthem Blue Cross] raised rates on some people by as much as 39 percent. But Obamacare itself more than doubles the cost of insurance on the individual market. I can understand why Democrats in California would want to mislead the public on this point. But journalists have a professional responsibility to check out the facts for themselves.”

If only California journalists lived up to that professional responsibility.





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  1. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 31 May, 2013, 09:26

    This article offers yet more evidence that Paul Krugman is nothing more than an immense ego attached to a lame looking beard and a lying set of lips. If there exists a more dishonest intellectual than Kruggie I can’t imagine who it would be.

    As for journalists of the Kalifornia variety, most are just too loathsome and useless to even be pitied. What a contemptible pack of sniveling, duplicitous, feminized, metrosexual, pencil necked, Libtard drones. You couldn’t even make a good compost pile out of these idiots.

    Reply this comment
  2. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 31 May, 2013, 15:58

    Dys has sharpened his claws – and his pencil. lol


    And would be hilarious if not for the fact it’s 100% true.

    Reply this comment
  3. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 31 May, 2013, 17:54

    Yes, Dyspeptic should be a prime candidate for the Tea Party annual “Smearie” award for the worst unfounded character assassination without a scintilla of evidence to back it up.

    But that’s always been the Rabid Right way, if you can’t argue the facts, attack the messenger.

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 31 May, 2013, 18:17

    Mehlman: When it comes to unfounded assertions and divisive attacks, libs win the race by a mile.

    “….punish your enemies….”

    Ring any bells?

    It should.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 31 May, 2013, 20:21

    If upwards of 40 million people get free health care and 60 million get heavily subsidized premiums you gotta know…….someone gotta pay for “fairness.”

    Remember….when you go to a coffee shop….many of the employees will benefit…’re going to pay for their premiums…

    Reply this comment
  6. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 1 June, 2013, 10:23

    Obama is a foreign born, Muslim, terrorist-supporting Socialist. Ring any bells, Jimmy?

    Being called “divisive” by a Regressive is like being called ugly by a frog…with apologies to the frog.

    Reply this comment
  7. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 1 June, 2013, 11:34

    Steve-o (With apologies to the real Steve-o)……

    Your statement was repeated mostly by nutbags. (with the exception of his being a “quasi-Socialist”, which is empirically true.)

    Mine was uttered not by an MSNBC bomb-throwing loon…….BUT THE SONAFABITCH PRESIDENT HIMSELF!

    Now go to your room and ponder that. And don’t come out until you are ready to tell everyone at the ‘Dog you are sorry.

    Reply this comment
  8. Queeg
    Queeg 1 June, 2013, 16:05

    Jimmy is a budding enforcer for the CWD radical element…tisk….about 90% of site posters…..or maybe his feet pain him badly from working at Bunker Queen’s truck stop chicken wings counter!

    Reply this comment
  9. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 3 June, 2013, 10:31


    Boy, jimbo, you should be proud of that. That’s what passes for patriotism in 2013 America. Used to be that you could disagree with a President’s policies without hating him and that you always respected the President even if you didn’t agree with him. I guess that’s too 20th century for your taste.

    Reply this comment
  10. Jon
    Jon 3 June, 2013, 17:23

    I’m hoping Obamacare flames out dramatically. I am 57, self employed, my “Silver” plan with $2,500 will START at $561 monfh…..nearly 7K a year….and you know premiums will soar quickly as people like me continue to opt out and pay the penalty, which looks like a good deal. No major changes made, greedy insurance co’s. still running the show, no real competion (Blue Cross Anthem and Kaiser is “competition”?? Where are all the “out of state” companies that would be allowed to compete? I’m not going to be sodomized by this Obamacare to the tune of 7K a year for catastrophic covg. with high deductible. Nor any real changes….drug co’s still pushing drugs on tv direct to consumer, no incentives to eat better from restaurant and food industry…lost in the cheering by media that my premium is “only” 7K a year is the fact that people of $50,000 modest income will be entitled to NO subsidies! They should storm the Anthem HQ like the Occupy movement and destroy these powerful outfits, with the 12MM CEO’s, private jets, etc. Where is the anger? It’s disgusting!!! Hoping it blows up big time in CA and elsewhere. These ins. and drug companies need to be brought under control. Wait till the “Dear John” letter comes in six months with “Notice of Premium Change”!!!!!! I want to vomit. Angela Braly former CEO of Wellpoint, should be in a prison cell, that pig!!!!

    Reply this comment
  11. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 5 June, 2013, 10:22

    How much are your insurance premiums now, Jon? Are you going bare and hoping someone else will pick up your costs when you have a heart attack or get into a car accident?

    Reply this comment
  12. Jon
    Jon 6 June, 2013, 22:07

    Yep……proudly daring to go bare, as millions have done for years and will continue to do under this stupid Obamacare “solution”…….and I’m not ashamed one bit! Why does this corrupt system discriminate against me for being entrepreneurial and self-employed? Don’t I already pay ALL (over 15% rather than the 7 1/2% payroll employees pay) of my own social security taxes, including the percentage that goes for medical? What the hell does your job have to do with health insurance? Why has that ridiculously sacred link not yet been broken? So being self-employed, you’re not fortunate enough to be part of a “pool” (except the “pool” of being a human being?)—so therefore the monsters at Anthem Blue Pig can shaft me, in the shameful “individual” market, with an outrageous premium and high deductible? Why don’t they rate the cost of my policy by whether I smoke, or by my BMI—whether I weigh 400 pounds and have diabetes due to my eating habits, or test positive for illegal drugs, or have three DUI convictions (all these therefore increasing the likelihood of my placing a burden on the care system), rather than by my simply being self-employed?!! You think it’s fair that I should pay 7K a year so these fat slobs can have their bariatric surgeries and amputations caused by THEIR selfish eating habits? I’ll be willing to bet that you work for a corporation and have a cushy high end all paid for health plan with super low deductibles. The answer to all this, in no particular order: eliminate all private for-profit insurance companies immediately. Get all their employees and bureaucracies and inefficiencies out of the system. Get rid of all their private jets at a government auction. No commissions paid to their parasitic sales agents (does the DMV pay commissions to their employees for giving you a driver’s license, does the electric company pay its employees a commission? How is health insurance any different! I mean, it’s a necessity, right? OK, then stop all tv advertising of Plavix, Abilify and all the other drugs that are hawked direct to consumer. Make it like it used to be…..advertising to doctors in professional publications. All this advertising costs millions and serves to increase consumer demand for this stuff, much of it crap. What, 1/4 of Americans are now on anti-depressants? Put 1 million dollar cap on med. malpractice lawsuits, or $2 million, whatever. But not the sky’s the limit as it is now. So we get the lawyers out of the picture and reduce doctors’ malpractice premiums. Get the McDonaldses of the world to start reducing sodium, fat and sugar in food… law. The fast food industry should bear much of the cost of the obesity “epidemic” and the diabetes and resulting soaring premiums. Let’s see, what else…….increase transparency of the system, as the Time Magazine article a few months back showed the OPACITY of the current system, the consumer of health care not truly shown the costs, or given a true choice…….this is a start. Until the system moves in this direction, premiums will only continue to soar, and the crisis will deeper further. Obamacare is doomed. Good riddance. Wait till that first “adjustment” letter arrives in the mail, the poor schmuck consumer seeing that that $561 a month for “Silver” plan is now $714 a month!!!! I can’t wait till the screaming really begins out there. It should be fun to watch, as I pay my penalty for opting out.

    Reply this comment
  13. Jon
    Jon 6 June, 2013, 22:26

    Oh yeah, a few more things…..let’s take this oppty. to point out how this Obamacare is truly a kick in the groin of the middle class (just what the struggling middle class needs about now, what with soaring energy, food, college costs, etc.)—-well, the subsidies for an individual stop at about $45,000 income…….so, that means that someone with a very modest $46,000 income, who’s my age, 57, can and should be expected to pay nearly $7,000 a year (TO START—heh heh)—and without a whimper, mind you——out of that unremarkable income, just to pay for health insurance that they might never need? This sounds fair to you, SkippingDog? What, do you work for a bariatric surgery facility, or the company that makes Abilify, or “The Wings of Lunesta”, or Celebrex (come Celebrate!!!), or Embrel (with its “possible side effects including lymphoma and various other types of cancer” (cool, sign me up for THAT) !!!, or “Low T” and all the other drug idiocy now being hawked?

    Where oh where are all those out of state insurance companies that were going to be allowed to come in to California and provide a truly competitive environment? Huh? Seems that with Cigna and Aetna sitting things out, there’s even LESS competition than before, in this stupid “exchange” idiocy………

    SkippingDog, how can you possibly defend the direction in which things are going? My 58 year old friend in L.A. is taking statins, otherwise reasonably good health, her premium recently went to $1,100 a month with $9,000 deductible. This is insurance???? What the hell are you thinking?

    Reply this comment

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