Paul Krugman wrote a very interesting article earlier this week, A General Theory of Obamacare Fiction. Basically, he tries to given general advice to tell if any particular Obamacare horror story is true. But I think his article is a bit muddled, so I thought I would go through it here and try to make it plain.
There are two groups of people who one might say are losers with Obamacare. The biggest category are the rich. In general, they won’t lose out because of anything to do with their insurance. Obamacare is largely funded by a tax on very high income earning people. And as I’ve noted before, this is why conservatives hate Obamacare. So let’s not ever lose sight of this most important issue regarding the Republican Party and Obamacare. The reason they hate it is that it taxes the rich, but they understand that they can’t say that. People won’t be sympathetic to that cause.
The second group of people who might be said to be losers are young men. If they currently have catastrophic coverage—like something with a $10,000 deductible—they will now be forced to get a more reasonable policy and it will almost certainly cost more. But these kinds of policies are not generally the kind of things that poor people get. For poor young people, losing $5,000 in one year due to a medical problem would likely be enough to force them into bankruptcy. And extremely high deductibles are mostly only useful for people who are worried about protecting their assets, not their health.
Regardless, even this second group is not going to fly as a source of hard luck stories designed to vilify Obamacare. For one thing, healthcare policies for young men are now and will continue to be rather cheap. So even doubling the cost of insurance from $100 per month to $200 doesn’t have much shock value. You can see the reason why the Republican Party is not going to this well for their outrage stories.
What this all means is very simple. Suppose someone comes to you with a story, “Person A is being screwed by Obamacare!” Unless Person A is a young man or a very wealthy person, the story is nonsense. And thus far, the only story that falls into that category is Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ claim during her State of the Union response about Bette in Spokane. In that case, Bette seems to be rich. She is at least rich enough that she wouldn’t use the state exchanges to save at least hundreds of dollars per month on her health insurance, simply because of her ideological rigidity.
Or you could just wait a day or two after any Obamacare horror story comes out to see what is actually going on. Because the stories always collapse after the smallest amount of journalistic digging. But as Krugman notes, it isn’t necessary to wait for the facts. We know how Obamacare works. It harms the rich and healthy a small amount in order to help the poor and unhealthy a lot. So a poor middle-aged woman dying of cancer will be helped by Obamacare. If someone says otherwise, they are lying.