While there are flaws that will be exacerbated by the fact that the American legislative process makes correcting defects nearly impossible, there’s good reason for some optimism about the PPACA: in addition to things like the clear benefits to act has brought to women, the exchanges in California have worked better than expected. This presents a challenge for Republicans who want to pretend to support some kind of health care reform while supporting the repeal of the PPACA even though it would be replaced with “nothing. (Although it must be admitted that the Republican fake-reformers are still being more rational that left-wing opponents of the PPACA, who also favor replacing the PPACA with nothing for the foreseeable future, only they prefer to pretend that killing the PPACA would have led to the Magic Ponies and Unicorns Act because…look, Atari brought out a game for the 2600 based on E.T.! It’ll be awesome!) Conservative “reformer” and “intellectual” Avik Roy rose to the occasion, claiming that in fact the California exchanges have led to price increases for private insurance. What’s his evidence? Well, funny thing:
Having both lived in California for over thirty years and having reason to be particularly focused on health insurance issues—including policy costs—I found any allegation that the rates published by Covered California could raise the existing policy prices by as much as 146 percent to be, to say the least, quite shocking. But then, one must always be open to the possibility that something was missed or a mistake was made.
And so, I read on.
What policies, I wondered, had Avik used as his point of comparison in reaching his startling conclusion?
I soon had my answer as Roy revealed where he had acquired his data, writing, “But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com, the median cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92.”
I must admit that it took a moment to sink in as my first reaction was to laugh. eHealthInsurance.com? Seriously?
Was Avik really using teaser rates published on the Internet by eHealthInsurance.com as his point of comparison? I mean, you don’t have to be a healthcare policy expert to know that websites like eHealthInsurance.com always flash low rates in front of you—prices that maybe one person in a thousand might actually hope to achieve—to tickle the interest of a potential customer.
Oh, my. I’ll turn it over to you, Ezra:
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.
If there was any reason to believe that Roy actually cared about making health insurance more accessible, this would be profoundly embarrassing for him. But it is a profound embarrassment for all the Republicans touting Roy as some kind of health policy guru. Needless to say, Roy’s transparently idiotic argument was immediately touted by fellow alleged reform intellectual Yual Levin.
…Cohn has much more.