Sy Mukherjee wrote one of the funniest headlines I think I’ve ever read, Major New Study on Obamacare Premiums Should End the “Rate Shock” Hysteria Once and for All. Let me provide some background here, because I don’t cover it much. On the right, people have been fear mongering that because of Obamacare, there will be “rate shock”: everyone who currently buys their own insurance (a fairly same percentage of the people anyway) will see their rates go up—way up.
Part of the problem is that the same insurance for different people costs different amounts. For example, as I rush toward the fifty year line, I will pay more than some twenty-something. Similarly, not all insurance plans are the same. Some cover more. Some have more co-payments. This has allowed conservative supposed wonks like Avik Roy to claim that prices are exploding under Obamacare. Roy has also argued that we should make Obamacare more like the Swiss system without actually understanding that it is even more liberal than our system. The point is that conservatives will continue to find reasons to claim that Obamacare is just no good.
That’s why I thought the headline was so funny. Facts will never stop conservative hysteria about anything. Look: Avik Roy isn’t stupid. Not at all. But what he is is an apologist for conservative policy and against liberal policy. I’m sure he sees it as his job to attack Obamacare in any way that he can. That’s true of the whole right wing establishment. Even the head of the CATO institute—the only remaining conservative think thank (all the others have become propaganda mills)—said that if one of their studies found something he disagreed with ideologically, he would kill it. That’s the kind of thing we are dealing with on the right, so no study will change what they are saying.
This new study is from the The Kaiser Family Foundation and it is large: spanning 17 states (plus DC) where data are available. And the results are quite good. They indicate that the estimates from the Congressional Budget Office have tended to be a bit higher than things are turning out. “Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.” This is good news, but hardly surprising. Earlier, more limited studies have found exactly the same thing.
As I said, I don’t cover this stuff very much. The truth is, I see very clearly what is happening. Conservatives hate Obamacare. But they don’t much know why. When I talk to people about the program—on the left or right—they usually don’t understand it at all. But while those on the left just have a wait and see attitude, those on the right think that the program is going to take away their current insurance and replace it with something else. And generally, there is no convincing them otherwise. But the real reason conservatives are against it is because their elites have told them to be. And the elites hate it because it takes away from the “right” kind of people (it taxes the rich) and gives to the “wrong” kind of people (it give the poor healthcare). And no amount of good news about the program is going to change this dynamic for these hateful people.