Jonathan Weisman says in today’s NYT that the ♡bamaCare!!! enrollment figures “lift Democratic hopes.” More:
It’s far too early to say a political turnaround is at hand, but for the first time this election year, Democrats are evincing some confidence that they have at least stanched the bleeding.
“It’s changing. If you’ve been around awhile, and I’ve been around awhile, you can sense it,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. “You’re not going to turn away seven or 10 million people from insurance coverage — doesn’t work anymore. And then comes Ryan. Thank you, thank you Congressman Paul Ryan, for reminding us what Republicans would do if they had control.”
Let’s save the Ryan stuff for another time, because he is (I think) positioning himself for 2016, rather than putting forth serious policy for 2015. And his timing, as the story notes, frankly stinks.
Instead, imagine you’re one of the newly-insured. Before ♡bamaCare!!! you were unable to buy insurance for whatever reason — preexisting conditions, too expensive, what have you. So you got on to Healthcare.gov or one of the state exchanges and were eventually able to buy insurance. You’re probably pretty happy, even if the website gave you a few headaches along the way. You might also be pretty happy if you’re one of the newly-covered under the Medicaid expansion, too.
Never mind for now that people who are receiving subsidies (an estimated four out of five enrollees) or who are on Medicaid subtract from ♡bamaCare!!!’ s solvency. We’re talking electoral politics today, and people receiving benefits generally don’t give two [REDACTEDS] what it costs the rest of us, or how much they’re adding to the deficit.
Those hardy souls, intrepid enough to endure Healthcare.gov’s myriad problems, might even prove motivated enough to show up at the polls in November to express their gratitude towards the Democrats who made it all possible.
Now I want you to imagine you’re one of the millions who had their policies cancelled. You were told you could keep the insurance who liked, but that turned out to be a lie. You were then forced onto one of the exchanges, where you practically ripped your hair out trying to buy new coverage. You then discovered that your new policy is quite a bit more expensive than your old one, once the greatly-increased deductibles and copays are factored in — and there’s no subsidy to cover those. Worst of all, you really liked the doctor you had, but their clinic is covered under the policy you could afford — another lie, and maybe the most hurtful one of all. The good news, if you can call it that, is that your 23-year-old is covered under your new plan. That’s a good thing because her hours got cut back to part-time because her employer couldn’t afford the ♡bamaCare!!! mandate for full-time employees. You have a big motivation to show up at the polls in November and vote for any but the [REDACTED] Democrat who did this to you and your family.
So we have two kinds of ♡bamaCare!!! customers: Winners and Losers. The news reports like Weisman’s seem to assume that every single one of the 7.1 million enrollees are happy customers. And we’re assuming here for the sake of argument that the 7.1 million figure is a valid one. There’s plenty of evidence suggesting that number is total horse[REDACTED].
But from the examples above, we see that just because you were able to buy insurance, doesn’t make you a happy customer. The question then is: What is the ratio of Unhappy:Happy customers?
A recent RAND Corporation study put the number of newly-insured — our Happy customers — at less than one million. One report puts the figure at nearly half of the 7.1 million are newbies. That report however is clearly an outlier, and based on anecdotal evidence. Let’s split the difference and call it a generous two million newly-insured. Oh, wait — the current rule of thumb is that 20% never paid their first premium, so we need to whack 400,000 off of our generous assumption, leaving us with 1.6 million newly-insured. (“It was my understanding there would be no math,” I can hear you complain. Don’t worry; this is Entitlement Math, where the figures can mean anything you want them to!)
People who lost their policies and have had to replace them top six million, and we can assume that number is lowball because many of those policies would have covered spouses and dependents. But we’re going to stay conservative with our figures, and call it a flat six million Unhappy Customers.
That gives us a ratio of 4.3:1, with the Unhappy Customers greatly outnumbering our Happy Customers.
So let the Democrats take their victory lap. They’ll need to take at least some small pleasure between now and November.