Many years ago, I read about the events that led up to a terrible airline crash. The pilots had set their plane on automatic pilot so that they could work on a problem they were having with their landing lights—an important but non-critical issue. But something had gone wrong with the automatic pilot system and the plane slowly descended. When the plane was about 100 feet off the ground, the pilots noticed the problem. But they were stunned. They just couldn’t believe that they were actually so low to the ground. And so they did nothing for several seconds and the plane crashed killing hundreds.
I had that same feeling this morning reading about Julie Boonstra in The Detroit News, Dexter Cancer Patient Who Called Health Care “Unaffordable” Will Save More Than $1K. It is about a Michigan “information” ad from Americans for Prosperity that features Ms Boonstra complaining that Obamacare canceled her old policy and now she can’t afford health insurance. Following my rules in Obamacare Helps the Poor and Sick, you should already know that this story is nonsense. There will be losers in Obamacare, but they won’t be middle-aged cancer patients.
And sure enough, The Detroit News finds that the combined total of her new policy and the maximum amount of out-of-pocket expenses will be $1,248 less than just the premiums on here old policy. So she’s likely to save way more than the one thousand mentioned in the headline; that amount is a bare minimum. When the ad came out, most observers were skeptical and now we know for sure. Case closed.
But that’s not the interesting thing about this story. After Boonstra was told what the truth was, she said that it couldn’t be true, “I personally do not believe that.” And I’m sure that’s true: she really doesn’t believe it. After all, she’s doubtless been told over and over by Fox News and hate radio (Who else would get involved with Americans for Prosperity?) that Obamacare is terrible. Remember: all the Obamacare scare stories that got debunked were never debunked in conservative media. They were reported, and when they didn’t pan out, the stories were just dropped.
So Boonstra is just like those pilots: she is so committed to a particular belief that she can’t see reality. Of course, the pilots were in that state for a couple of seconds. Boonstra and the folks at Americans for Prosperity are now trying to massage the story. Now it isn’t that the new plan is unaffordable. It is that the out of pocket expenses may come all at once. A spokesman for the group said, “Before her plan was canceled by Obamacare, Julie knew what her monthly costs would be. Now those costs are unpredictable and the potential for spikes in any given month make them unaffordable…”
But that’s not the case at all! Boonstra’s premiums were constant—and twice what she used to pay. She still had out-of-pocket expenses that she admits to in the article. Based upon what her new insurer says, those drugs are included in her new plan. In fact, the new insurer seems to be working really hard to calm the situation down. I’m sure they get a lot of Julie Boonstras: people who are determined to be upset about their new plans regardless of the facts.
There is another correlation between Boonstra and those pilots. Their mistaken certainties aren’t just hurting themselves. An airplane full of people died because of the pilots’ mistake. And a whole country is getting a worse political system because Boonstra and so many more like her are determined to see Obamacare as a terrible thing—even as it is actually making their lives better.
H/T: Jonathan Chait