Let me see if I can put some perspective on this week in politics. Today, 47 million Americans are seeing their Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut as a temporary program comes to an end. Of these, 47% are children; 8% are senior citizens. But according to the Republicans in Congress and on Fox News, 100% of them are loafers who refuse to get a job because of the SNAP gravy chain. Never mind that 41% of SNAP-receiving households have at least one employed person.
You aren’t going to see much reporting on this issue in the conservative media echo chamber. That’s because they will be too busy wringing their hands about all those unfortunate people who are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare. In case you haven’t heard, these are people who currently buy really bad insurance on the individual market. Obamacare dictates that if companies are going to sell insurance, it has to be of a certain level. So all of those useless policies that people think cover them but end up abandoning them when they go to use them will be gone—or close to it. In 2009, the New York Times reported that roughly 75% of people filing for bankruptcy for medical bills had insurance. One of the biggest things that drives this—and the reason Obamacare is forcing some insurance policies to be canceled—is yearly and lifetime limits on the amount of care that will be paid for.
A lot of people misremember what Michael Moore’s film Sicko was about. It starts with a rundown of how many people in the United States are uninsured and how horrible the system is. And then he said, “This film is not about them.” Sicko is about how even those lucky enough to have health insurance are screwed. So the fact that there are some people in America who currently live with the delusion that they have insurance should not be seen as a good thing. Forcing them to get insurance that will actually do what they think their current policies will do is a feature of Obamacare and in no way a bug.
But how many people are we really talking about? Listening to Fox News you would get the impression that half the people of the nation are losing their current health insurance plans. Luckily, economist Justin Wolfers put together a chart to show what we are talking about:
So we are talking about 3% of the population. And as I’ve discussed, those people really aren’t losing. Rather than paying for a false sense of security, they will be paying more for a real sense of security. Still, that it upwards of 10 million people. But that is 20% as many people as are seeing their food budget go down today. And those who are being forced to get better insurance can afford it. The conservatives don’t even have crocodile tears for the 47 million poor people who cannot.