On Friday, Brian Beutler wrote a much discussed article with a great headline, Whoops! Obamacare Turns Out to be Great Deal Personally for Boehner. For obvious political reasons, John Boehner decided to buy insurance on the ACA exchanges. And he blogged about the experience. As you might expect, he had difficulties. According to him, he spent four hours fighting with the system. But less than an hour after he complained online about the process, he succeeded.
Certainly, that kind of frustration is not acceptable. But what’s more important is that Boehner would only have mentioned bad things that happened. If the whole process took 15 minutes, he simply would have said nothing. So the question is, “What did John Boehner not say?” I’m sure that’s the question that Beutler asked himself before writing his article. Because one thing immediately comes to mind: he didn’t mention that his his premiums went up. I wonder why.
Beutler went onto the exchange and entered John Boehner’s information. And he found, “The cheapest policy for a 64-year-old is a high-deductible, bronze-plated BlueCross BlueShield plan with a $372.14 premium.” That’s actually an amazing deal from what I know about health insurance for people about to retire. Beutler writes, “Just under 2 percent of Boehner’s income. Not bad for a man on the cusp of his golden years!” The most Boehner might pay is 5.5% of his income for a gold plated plan. But he could get a zero deductible plan for just $699.86 a month—3.7% of his income.
I can well imagine that when Boehner came up with his plan to sign up with Obamacare, he had visions of ranting about sticker shock. That wasn’t a reasonable expectation. The only people likely to see their premiums go up are young healthy affluent people. Boehner is certainly affluent—he didn’t get any subsidies. But he isn’t young and he is smoker with some kind of preexisting condition that turns the skin orange. But I suspect he really did think he would face sticker shock. In the right wing echo chamber, Obamacare is making everyone pay more for health insurance—at least those who can actually get the system to work.
It’s interesting to see how Boehner’s stunt has played in the media. When he first announced that he couldn’t sign up, the conservative media were all over it. Twitchy, for example, published Rep. John Boehner Unsuccessfully Attempts to Enroll in Obamacare. Although even by the time it published the article, it was no longer accurate. But since then, the conservative media have lost interest. Again: the echo chamber. Their readers hear that Boehner can’t sign up and they hear nothing more—not even that it took Boehner a long time to sign up.
The reason I was even looking at the coverage of this is that I thought that John Boehner might release a statement. If Beutler was even partly wrong, he would have said something like, “I’m not going to talk about my personal finances, but I did not get a great deal through Obamacare.” But we didn’t even get this kind of non-denial denial. So I feel very comfortable thinking that Boehner actually did get sticker shock, “I am shocked that my premiums are so low through Obamacare!” But you won’t hear him talk about it. When there is good news about Obamacare, no conservative will dare talk about it.
Update (24 November 2013 7:37 pm)
According to Politico, John Boehner’s Premiums Spike Under Obamacare. I smell a rat. According to the article, “So, he’ll pay more next year for himself than he paid this year for both himself and his wife.” First, that sounds like it comes direct from Boehner’s office and not an actual journalist. Second, given that the Boehners get their insurance through their employers, wasn’t the actual cost they were paying higher than their own contributions? That is: what about the employer’s contribution? Third, by opting out of employer insurance, are they throwing themselves into a high risk pool—namely the “old and smoking” pool? I wonder about it and I will watch closely to see what is reported tomorrow by people who understand all this stuff a lot better than I do.