Higher Health Insurance Premiums: The Obamacare Debate We Didn't Have



Let's talk about Obamacare and rate shock—and how we talked about the law's effect on premiums when it was first being debated.  

The health law's supporters are now admitting that premiums will go up for some young and health individuals buying health insurance through the exchange. But they say it's not entirely fair to make a comparison between individual plans bought on an exchange and today's plans, because exchange plans offer a far richer set of benefits. Nor should this really come as a shock to anyone, because this is what people were told to expect.

This is a point that The Washington Post's Ezra Klein made on MSNBC last night in a discussion of Obamacare's effect on premiums with The Manhattan Institute's Avik Roy. Roy noted that, when compared with today's rates, individual market premiums bought on an exchange would be dramatically higher for many younger, healthier people—with rates doubling in some cases versus the rates he found online.

Now it's true that those online rates are teasers that don't apply to everyone; 26 percent of the market will either pay more or not get coverage. But that still leaves roughly three quarters of the market who will see far higher rates. Maybe, Roy said last night, that's just fine, because we believe that it's "a good thing for people to pay double for their health insurance because we're now protecting the sick. But that's a debate we didn't have really in 2009." 

Except that according to Klein, it is a debate we had: "This is a debate we had," he said. "This is what frustrates me here. I remember doing this debate over and over and over again. So Evan Bayh wrote the Congressional Budget Office—[Bayh] was a senator back then—he said: 'What's going to happen to average premiums?' The CBO came back and said, 'Well, average premiums are going to go up a bunch. And then people like me went in and looked at what they [the CBO] said, and they said, 'Average premiums are going to go up but that's because people are going to have to start buying better health care because they're going to get subsidies, because we're going to make them pay for better health care because now they can afford it.'"

Far higher rates for younger, healthier individuals were to be expected. "This was out there," Klein finished. "And we talked about it a lot."

I'm not so sure. Liberal wonks like Klein may have talked about it—we'll get to that a little later. But the president and his administration did not talk about it much at all. Rather, the overarching message from the White House, and from the law's supporters generally, was that Obamacare would cause health insurance premiums to drop. 

Let's go back in time to when President Obama first began to make the case for his health care overhaul. Here's how he touted his health plan in May 2007, early in his run for office. "If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less." On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama continued to sell the law as a way to lower health premiums, promising at least 15 times to reduce health premiums for families by $2500 on average. And as Buzzfeed notes, Obama didn't stop pointing to lower premiums when he made it into the White House in 2009. In May of that year, he told C-SPAN that if health industry groups commit to savings—"we end up saving $2 trillion…a lot of those savings can go back into the pockets of American consumers in the form of lower premiums. That's what we are driving for."

From the very beginning, in other words, Obama's message was not that the law would result in higher premiums, but better coverage. It was that the law would lower premiums, end of story.

Now maybe you think that's not fair. After all, these statements were made before the specifics of the law had been drafted, and before experts at the Congressional Budget Office and elsewhere would weigh in.

So let's flash forward a few months, to the end of 2009, in the weeks leading up to the Senate's vote to pass the health care law. What was the White House saying then?

A headline from the White House blog on November 4, 2009 makes it clear that the essential message about premiums hadn't changed: "Word from the White House: Objective Analysis Shows Reform will Help Small Business, Lower Premiums for American Families." [emphasis added] The "objective analysis" in question was a report from Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a key architect of both Obamacare and the Massachusetts health care overhaul.

The White House blog post touted Gruber's conclusion that the health care legislation would save individuals anywhere from $500 to $3000 a year, and families even more. And those savings, the post emphasized, would "come in addition to the more generous benefits consumers would receive by purchasing insurance through the newly  created exchange"—as well as "in addition to increased protections" for individuals with preexisting conditions. Gruber even claimed that the savings would come for those who did not qualify for subsidies. Low-income individuals eligible for assistance, he said, the savings would be much larger.

This is November of 2009, long after the bulk of the legislative work has been completed. And yet the White House and a prominent Obamacare adviser were still both claiming that premiums would go down, and that benefits would go up, for individual insurance purchased through an exchange. This was the message that the administration was selling. This was the debate they were having, from the time Obama started running for office until well into the first year of his presidency.  

Of course, we still haven't talked about the Congressional Budget Office report that Klein mentioned—the one responding to Sen. Evan Bayh's query about how the health law would affect insurance premiums. That came out shortly after Gruber's report. The White House wrote up that report on its official blog too. And once again, the primary message is crystal clear. The headline to that post reads: "CBO Confirms Families Will Save Money Under Health Reform." The second paragraph says that the health law "will mean lower premiums for American families." And the very first bullet point in the list of highlights says that "Americans buying comparable health plans to what they have today in the individual market would see premiums fall by 14 to 20 percent."

The only hint that higher premiums might be on the horizon if the health law passes comes a little later, when the post says that "where the CBO does see premiums rising, it's not because Americans are paying more for the same coverage – it's that they're making a choice to purchase better plans that weren't previously available to them." And it downplays this point by suggesting that the CBO may have understated the cost-savings the law will produce.

Yet even the admission that CBO does see some premiums rising turns out to have missed the mark. Part of the reason we're now seeing some higher premiums in the exchanges is because of the coverage requirements exchange-based plans have to meet. It's not that individuals are making their own choices to buy more expansive and thus more expensive coverage. It's that insurers are being told by regulators that more expansive coverage is what they must sell.

Even by the time the CBO report arrives, there's still no mistaking the message that the Obama White House was selling to anyone who would listen: that premiums would go down, that benefits would go up, and that if premiums did happen to go up, it would only be as a result of an individual choice to buy more robust coverage.

But what about the wonks, like Klein? What kind of conversation were they having at the end of 2009? If you take Klein as representative, you find that it was somewhat more nuanced than what was coming out of the White House, and that the higher cost of individual premiums was mentioned. But the emphasis was still on lower premiums, not on the tradeoffs made to get more robust coverage.

At the beginning of November 2009, for example, Klein quoted and linked to Gruber's paper with no commentary, under the headline "Massachusetts provides evidence that health-care reform lowers insurance premiums."

Later that month, Klein looked at the CBO analysis requested by Bayh. In the third paragraph, he notes that in the individual market, "average premiums are expected to rise by 10 to 12 percent." His post goes on to explain that, according to the CBO, this is because the average insurance policy purchased through the exchange will cover a much larger share of an individual's costs and a slightly wider range of benefits. In the end, what we're looking at, he says, is "a 10 to 12 percent increase in premiums for insurance that's about 30 percent better than what people are getting now. It's a steal."

So this is the discussion that Klein was having: Yes, average premiums increase somewhat, but benefits increase even more. But what about others? Not Paul Krugman; one of his posts referenced the CBO's report and conclude that "premiums would stay about the same for people with group coverage, while falling significantly for most of those in the small-group or individual markets."

Whether Klein's discussion of individual market premium hikes in the exchanges would have led a typical reader to expect the kind of rate increases we're seeing in California is another question. The percentage increases he wrote up were just 10 or 12 percent, not the 100 percent hikes Avik Roy has pointed out. On the other hand, Klein was talking about averages, and the biggest hikes are concentrated amongst the young and healthy demographic. It's not possible say with certainty what most people would have taken away from his discussion of trade-offs.

But we do have some sense of what Klein wanted people to take away. First because in Klein's initial write up of the CBO report, he goes on to emphasize that the individual market hikes occur before the application of subsidies, which he notes will be available to about 57 percent of the market. "So in the final analysis," he wrotes, "the effect of reform on your typical individual market purchasers is to give them insurance that's about 30 percent better but only 10 to 12 percent more expensive, and then assure them subsidies that will lower their payments by more than 50 percent." Yes, we're still talking about averages. But it looks fairly plain that his message is first and foremost about lower premiums, not the tradeoff of better benefits for higher premiums.

Finally, we have an idea of what Klein wanted readers to take away from his analysis of the health law's effect on premiums, because a few days later, he followed up with another post. The concluding paragraph of that post reiterates the key points from this original. "The individual market sees costs go up, as people can purchase better insurance at a lower cost," he wrote. "And after subsidies, most people are paying less and getting more than they would absent reform." Indeed, "most Americans will see their premiums go down even if you account for the better insurance plans they'll be purchasing." The headline he wrote for his post emphasizes the main point: "To repeat, the CBO found that premiums go down under health care reform."

This is the debate that even those relatively few Americans who follow wonky policy pundits were hearing—not one that emphasized tradeoffs, but one that repeatedly emphasized that Obamacare would have mostly positive impacts on premiums, and that any negative impacts would be modest. So it's worth asking: Was this the sort of debate that effectively prepared people for the sort of rates we're seeing in California, and that we're likely to see in many other states as well? Or was it, as Roy said, a debate we didn't really have in 2009? Decide for yourself. But when you do, know when it comes to the discussion of Obamacare and premiums that people were having in 2009, this is what was out there. And this is what the law's administration backers and other supporters talked about a lot.

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  1. You know who else lied to a nation….

    1. Also, Firstest!

      1. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job Ive had. Last Monday I got a new Alfa Romeo from bringing in $7778. I started this 9 months ago and practically straight away started making more than $83 per hour. I work through this link, http://www.Mojo50.com

    2. Every national leader ever?


      Leviathan needs a new pair of shoez.

  2. We have to pass it to debate what will result from it.

    1. But there is no debating that having health insurance = being healthy.

  3. God what a lying piece of shit Klein is. I used to think he was just stupid. But he knows exactly what he said in 09. He is not that stupid. For him to come back now and claim “of course there were going to be higher rates” is basically him telling everyone to go fuck themselves. Piece of shit is actually an insult to shit.

    1. I don’t understand how the election ads for Republicans weren’t exclusively clips of Obama giving conflicting speeches 3-4 years apart.

      1. My point might not have been clear enough: people don’t seem to give a shit about consistency.

        1. Trick question:

          What color is the color for the Party of Stupid?

          1. I’ll go with “maroon”

            /Bugs Bunny

      2. Jeebus, me too. Romney could have had a series of ads that just consisted of Obama contradicting himself and saying stupid things.

        1. Obama could have done the same thing to Romney.

          1. Why bother? That was the job of the MSM.

    2. What do you expect from the creator of the “JournoList”?

    3. He is a fucking dishonest prick. He’s even lying to himself. He’s a human colostomy bag.

  4. In the end, what we’re looking at, he says, is “a 10 to 12 percent increase in premiums for insurance that’s about 30 percent better than what people are getting now. It’s a steal.”

    What a mendacious little twat. That statement is Obama-speak for “We’re going to force you to buy shit you don’t want or need.”

    1. I like the part that mentions better premiums are now “available” instead of “mandated.”

      1. Firework Surprise| 6.5.13 @ 3:03PM |#
        “I like the part that mentions better premiums are now “available” instead of “mandated.””

        And income tax is “voluntary”.

        1. Well, nobody’s forcing you to make an income.

    2. Thirty percent better because it covers birth control and abortions and mental health treatment. If you are a straight male or 49 year old woman who doesn’t need any of that, well that is just tough shit.

      1. And what was the metric used for “30% better”? As you note, it could mean “covers 30% more things”, which doesn’t necessarily make it “better”.

        1. That is exactly what it means. It covers more shit. Whether the person being forced to pay for that shit actually needs it or not is never considered.

          And the whole point of the law was to get people to pay for shit various Dem constituencies wanted. See, buying coverage for birth control is a whole lot cheaper if you mandate every policy cover it and thus make people who will never use the coverage help pay for it.

          1. And it’s not really even “more” things. It’s an additional set of things which may or may not be permitted to include the things you actually want and/or previously had.

            You know, those Cadillac-y things only sneaky greedy rich people want.

            1. It’s really an arbitrary collection of sops to special interests. If you grease the right hands the kind of medical care you need will be covered, and everyone else will be forced to subsidize you. Otherwise, it’s not an “essential” benefit, so you’ll have to pay more to get it.

          2. “It covers more shit.”

            And just because something is covered, that doesn’t mean that once you need that treatment it will actually be available to you when/if you need it.

        2. But the increase is moderated by two other policy changes. First, the new rules governing the insurance market are expected to make the market more efficient, lowering prices by 7 to 10 percent. Second, the individual mandate, alongside the subsidies and the increased ease of purchasing insurance, is expected to bring in healthier folks, which should save another 7 to 10 percent. Add it all together and we’re looking at a 10 to 12 percent increase in premiums for insurance that’s about 30 percent better than what people are getting now. It’s a steal. And all this is before we get to subsidies.

          I think the math is in that paragraph somewhere, but I’m just a CPA, not a mathematician.

          1. ???

            I don’t see “30 percent” there. And he said it was 30 percent “better”, not 30 percent *cheaper*, which it explicitly isn’t – but those “7 to 10 percent” citations deal with price, not quality.

            1. Also “seven to ten percent” of what? The original base number or the reduced base?

              I seriously doubt Klein passed high school algebra. He probably did a lefty community service project and essay on Che Guivera in lieu of taking the final.

            2. Ok, let me redo it for you Kochtopus. 10 to 12 percent here, 10 to 12 percent there, add it all up and ha! I was wrong, 1,000,000% better!

              -Ezra Klein

          2. Bringing healthy people into the system is Klein speak for “making the young and healthy subsidize everyone else”.

          3. new rules governing the insurance market are expected to make the market more efficient

            This is such a load of crock. Even if you hate free markets, it’s impossible to deny that they juggernauts at improving efficiency.

            1. Liberals emphatically deny free markets improve efficiency.

              1. I haven’t heard that as much. They usually complain about inequality but they usually admit that they are good at maximizing efficiency.

        3. “..doesn’t necessarily make it “better”.”

          “Maybe, Roy said last night, that’s just fine, because we believe that it’s “a good thing for people to pay double for their health insurance because we’re now protecting the sick.”

          We are protecting the sick Neo. Why do you hate the sick?

      2. Or a Catholic woman who doesn’t practice contraception.

    3. Point to the people who are only paying 10-12% more than their 2009 rate. Because my HDHP was up about 35% from PPACA’s passage until I transitioned to a company plan in April 2013.

      1. And you are not alone there. Anyone that only saw a 10-12% jump in the last 2 years is f-ing lucky as hell.

  5. Only a fucking retard would not understand that having community rating, abolishing the pre-existing condition exclusion, and requiring every health insurance plan to cover every possible condition known to man with a low deductible was going to totally fuck young, healthy people.

    And for the record, can someone please tell Klein, yes we had a debate and the country didn’t want the bill, but assholes like him told the country to go fuck themselves and passed it anyway. And after that, please kick him repeatedly in the nuts, if he has any.

    1. If the Stupid Party (aka TEAM Red) weren’t as stupid as they are, this would be their heavy artillery in 2014.

      But they are, as their name states, stupid.

      1. I am not sure people are going to give them any choice. When people’s rates go up this much, they are going to go insane.

        1. John,
          The ‘people’ are not going to blame that hag Pelosi or the lair Obama. They’re going to blame the insurance companies and demand more regulation.

          1. They would except that they are being forced to buy the insurance. That will make them blame Obamacare. If they were going to blame the insurance companies, Obmaacare would be popular now, which it is not.

  6. The rate going up is a feature, not a bug.

  7. This is remarkably like Obama burying “act of terror” in the Rose Garden speech. So Klein has a tiny discussion within an insular community and that translates to “we had this debate”? BS.

    1. He screamed every day for a year how this was going to save everyone money. Now he says because once during that year he entertained the possibility that rates would go up for some, he can now say “I told you so”. He needs to meet the fate of some 80s teen movie villain.

      1. It amazes me how easy it is to bullshit with minutiae:

        -“scoring” the bill so that it would it cost under $1 trillion.
        – claiming government involvement would lower costs
        – playing games with the definition of “premium increases”

        I have to think the reason the People are so buffaloed by this is because they want to be. They want to believe that this program can be cheap and effective because we have the WILL to do it, as if you can WILL your way to efficiency.

      2. Let’s add the fact that all the way through the individual mandate court cases the pro-ACA camp was insisting, repeatedly, that the individual mandate was there so that uninsured people wouldn’t “shift costs” onto the insured. Turns out most of the uninsured are young and healthy and they are being forced to buy insurance to subsidize other people’s rates.

        1. Yeah. That is a great point. All we heard for four years was how the uninsured are this huge burden on the system, which never made any sense in the first place since costs are costs whether or not they are ate by the hospital or paid for by an insurance company. But now come to find out that the uninsured are nothing but a fucking cash cow to reward Dem voters.

      3. No, he needs to meet the fate of the unattractive best friend of the hot girl in an 80’s teen horror movie – killed off-screen with blood splashing on the walls.

  8. When they put the word ‘Affordable’ in the name of the bill, they forgot to mention that it was going make health insurance less affordable, not more.

    1. The Affordable Care Prohibition Act.

      1. Obamascare!

  9. and the subsidies, especially if your medium income and single are just plain awful.


    It looks to me like a 25- or 30-year-old freelancer (making $32k) in the great state of California can probably get the Silver Plan for somewhere between $200 to $250 a month. And if they’re willing to take less coverage–a high deductible “catastrophic” plan (available only to those under 30), or the Bronze plan, which has more cost sharing, they can pay as little as $185 a month in San Francisco, or $117 a month in Los Angeles. Though I’m not sure I trust that last number; looking at all the other plans; $150 a month seems more likely.


    Back to the monthly cost for our just-getting-by freelancer in California; if we add in the monthly subsidy of $17.75, their monthly insurance bill for will come out to somewhere between $135 and $170 a month if they choose the options with the most cost-sharing; $185 to $235 if they want something that will pay a substantial chunk of their ordinary doctor’s bills.

    1. I know at that age, medical insurance wasn’t even on my radar. Asking to pay for that monthly insurance – more than my car loan at the time! – would have pissed me off to no end.

    2. They’ll just use this as an argument for raising taxes and increasing the subsidy.

      1. Or for enacting a National Health Service-type scheme.

  10. “where the CBO does see premiums rising, it’s not because Americans are paying more for the same coverage ? it’s that they’re making a choice to purchase better plans that weren’t previously available to them”

    If by “making a choice” you mean “forced to because everything else is now illegal”, and “weren’t previously available” you mean “that they previously chose not to buy”.

    1. Good catch Hazel. The “not previously available” lie is particularly appalling. What, you couldn’t buy high end health insurance?

      1. I suppose in some demented way he means that premiums will rise for people with pre-existing conditions because they can now purchase plans that used to be less expensive before they could buy them.

  11. What a fucking mendacious twat Ezra Klein is.

    but that’s people are going to have to start buying better health care because they’re going to get subsidies, because we’re going to make them pay for better health care because now they can afford it.

    I think you mean, but that’s because people are going to have to start buying greater amounts of prepaid medical care because that’s exactly what the law forces them to do, regardless of whether they get any subsidies let alone whether said subsidies help them “afford” it.

    1. Note how breathlessly he says “making them pay…”. I think the little crap weasel got a hard on as he said that.

      1. The thing that is really fucked up is that he actually thinks that the gold-plated comprehensive insurance required by the ACA is “better”.

        Yes, it shields you from slightly more risk, but at what cost? Why it is “better” to have zero-co-pays and pay the insurance companies higher premiums instead? Why is it “better” to buy your birth control through the insurance company instead of getting it out of pocket and paying lower premiums? Why is it assumed to be “better” for the consumer to be completely shielded from all medical expenses, and just pay whoppingly hige insurance premiums instead? What exactly is better about that?

        1. Sadly, it’s because everything economically literate people think is good, these folks think is bad, because introducing something filthy like money into the holy and blessed realm of health is just disgusting and immoral.

          1. Indeed. I have this theory that liberals have a disgust reaction towards money and economics in general. This is based on Jonathan Haidt’s theory about the sactity-degradation axis and it’s relationship to the disgust mechanism. Once upon a time, bubonic plague and other diseases spread along trade routes and money changing hands a lot was a disease vector, so people historically would have naturally associated commerce with disease. The notion is that liberals don’t use the purity-sanctity axis when it comes to moral decision making, only conservatives, but from what I have seen they have HUGE disgust reactions to everything associated with makrets or commerce or “profit”. They just happen to have a DIFFERENT orientation to their purity-degradation axis. Instead of it being based on sex, it’s all about commerce.

            1. I like that theory, Hazel. Many definitely seem disgusted by virtually all forms of commerce. The more markety, the more disgusting.

            2. It’s a legacy from their social gospel roots.

        2. Yes he does. And he couldn’t explain to you why other than he is a liberal and thus by definition has poor math skills and an absolutely irrational aversion to risk.

      2. Well, and if someone can afford something, why not make them pay for it?!? Ugh, statists, I don’t get you.

        1. Start from the assupmtion that they feel it is their money, and that they are kind enough to let you keep a chunk of it, you ungrateful bastage, and you will quickly grasp the way they think and the things they do..

  12. But they say it’s not entirely fair to make a comparison between individual plans bought on an exchange and today’s plans, because exchange plans offer a far richer set of benefits.

    And what if I’m a consumer who wants a cheaper an insurance plan with fewer benefits? Like say catastrophic coverage only?

    1. Then you are an unpatriotic leech on the system unwilling to pay YOUR FAIR SHARE so people who have fucked up their health while not preparing themselves to make a living can live off your labor!!! You are disgusting – Now get back to work so I can collect my Earned Income credit and get back to my soaps!

  13. Anyway, the huge issue that is being overlooked is that the cost-shifting entailed by subsidies really doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. You’re just paying the premiums through tax dollars anyway.

    And the root core of the problem is that the ACA destroys any natural market incentives to control costs, by completely sheilding sconsumers from the cost of care, while tying the hands of the insurance companies.

    So costs are going to continue to spiral and rates will rise, and you can already hear the drum beat for price controls.

    1. Of course. Everything gets worse, for everybody. And when it gets bad enough that they socialize it, it’ll get even worse-er.

      I don’t think we or the world realize just what a cataclysm it’s going to be when the U.S. economy is no longer driving the engine of the world economy.

      1. Or driving medical R&D. Because that shit is going to going to right quick.

      2. I’m not so sure about that. Economic catastrophe provides the perfect opportunity for a tyrant to step in and take control.

        Most progs are ignorant, and much of the remainder are simply stupid. But there are are a few who I think are quite cunning…and malevolent.

        1. Economic catastrophe is also the perfect opportunity for a civil war. That could be a good thing.

  14. What’s good about this great pain coming our way is that if the GOP takes the Senate, it will have every incentive to repeal the law. Yes, Obama could veto, but political reality could set in real fast if the Congress is tough on what might be a very popular issue.

    1. If the GOP takes the Senate. More than enough chances to fuck it up. Again.

  15. Here’s another funny little aside.

    The people who are going get screwed over the worst are likely to be recent college grads. East and west coast single professionals are likely to be earning way too much to qualify for the subsidies. And right now all the young hip college kids who voted for Obama back in ’08 should be turning 26 right … about … now.

    1. You guys (e.g. the posters over 30) are really being dicks about this.

      1. You haven’t apologized for destroying America, see.

        1. Any country that failed to give me a space elevator is unworthy of my remorse.

          1. You’ve got the degree, go out and make it happen, Von Braun.

            1. Get me a trillion bucks and I’ll get right on it.

              Or put all the sexy redheaded women up there.

              1. A trillion? Who are you, NASA?

                1. I’ve got to buy a few monocles too.

                  1. Well, you need to add an administrative fee, true.

              2. Or put all the sexy redheaded women up there.

                On it.

          2. A fair criticism. I believe it was the “Greatest” generation that decided to stop going to the Moon and beyond back in the 1970s. The early 1970s. I’d sue, if I were you.

            1. Something about this seems self-serving…

              1. I didn’t say hire me. I’m no litigator. Besides, you need a space lawyer. Or a really stoned one.

                1. Are you saying you aren’t qualified to be a space lawyer? I might have to stop liking you.

                  1. I’m qualified, but I swore an oath not to practice space law until I had an office on Mars.

                    1. Then we seem to be at an impasse. No space lawyering without Mars office. But no Mars office without space lawyering.

                    2. It is a conundrum. A space conundrum.

    2. East and west coast single professionals are likely to be earning way too much to qualify for the subsidies

      Wait, did free trade coffee shops suddenly raise wages?

      1. “Barrista” is a profession?

        1. You don’t appreciate latte-foam-art?

      2. You forget: coverage on Daddy’s plan until the age of 26. Not especially a thing to be proud of for Heap Big College Grad, but Obama did cover that base.

  16. As long as we’re remembering the rationalizations (and flat out lies) of the administration and it’s lefty supporters regarding Obamacare, let’s not forget that the narrative about the individual mandate was to address the (alleged) problem of cost shifting from the unisured onto everybody else becuase they were all running to the emergency room every time the sneezed and racking up big bills the rest of us had to pay.

    No mention was made of what was really going on – forcing young and healthy people to buy insurance at coverage and cost levels far in excess of what they individually needed so that the costs of other people could be offloaded onto them. So the real result (and objective all along) wasn’t to reduce cost shifting – it was to INCREASE it.

  17. Actually, this point was raised repeatedly by fiscal conservatives, even back in 2009. Unfortunately, we were shouted down, ridiculed by those referring to themselves as “the only adults in the room”, accused of not caring about the most vulnerable members of society, and subjected to a bunch of ad hominem attacks.

  18. And let’s not forget the claim that if you like your curent insurance you’ll be able to keep it.

    And the claim that preventitive medicine provisions reduce health care costs.

    There’s no shortage of lies and distortions that were spun by the Obamabots about Obamacare.

    1. Oh yes, I recall how when we all got free preventive care it was supposed to reduce our insurance rates.

  19. An insurance company is the biggest legal casino in the world.

    You go to them and propose a wager. You wager that you will be injured, get sick, lose property or suffer some other misfortune in the next month. The company calculates the odds, figures out how much you and they each need to put up to benefit both parties, and they spin fate’s roulette wheel.

    If you win your wager, they pay you. If they win, you pay them. And then you make a new wager next month.

    Some wagers have odds that are just so bad, only a fool would touch the wager even with a 10 foot pole. Under the old system, the casino could refuse to take your bet. But under Obamacare, they’re not allowed to turn anyone away.

    The casino makes money by volume of business. They can, normally, afford to lose a wager here and there, because they win more than they lose, the odds favor the house overall. If they’re not allowed to say no, then that skews the odds for everyone, requiring that everyone put up larger wagers.

    So the Affordable Care Act will double your costs (or more)? Entirely predictable by anyone who knows how a casino works.

  20. If I never had to buy insurance in my life but have to spend 200-300 hundred dollars a month for insurance next year, does it really matter to me that premiums went down or not? I went from paying nothing to paying something.

    If subsidies actually lowered the healthcare cost, so what? Who pays for subsidies?

    What is Klein guy saying? If I went to a gas station and I couldn’t fill up on regular, I’m suppose to rejoice at paying more for premium because its good for the car?

    I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pay 200 dollars a month for healthcare. And I probably won’t have ready access to the already crowded LA hospitals. This little IRS scandal couldn’t have come at a better time. They’ll be even more reluctant about targeting the young, healthy and stupid Obama lovers who won’t pay a diddily cent into the healthcare system.

    1. If subsidies actually lowered the healthcare cost, so what? Who pays for subsidies?

      “The Rich”. They are this mysterious money tree that never stops giving.

    2. “I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pay 200 dollars a month for healthcare”

      You don’t have to.

      Remember that the only enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate is that the IRS withholds the penalty/tax from any tax refunds you are due. They have no other way to collect it.

      So all you have to do is arrange your withholding allowances and/or estimated tax payments so that you are never due a refund and they cannot make you pay the penalty.

      1. One more thing: do all your banking in a shoebox under your bed. Because there is such a thing as Uncle Sam levying your checking account.

  21. All I know is mine goes up $50 a year, like clockwork!


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  23. You guys are fucked. Single payer is on the way. Welcome to Canada.

    The ends justifies the means in this case and this is what the Democrats intended all along.

    Hilariously disingenuous guys like Klein were just cogs in that wheel.

    Enjoy hope, change and checkmate America.

    1. I don’t know if it will get that far. But things are certainly bound to get worse before they get better.

      I think there are plenty of people in this country who are unwilling to live as slaves to the masses indefinitely. Where the tipping point is remains to be seen, but an attempt to shove single payer through after the shenanigans they used to pass obamacare would probably do the trick. Of course, the IRS scandal has helped push things along as well.

  24. Anyone who’s read a basic economics book, or lives in a country with government doling out healthcare knew there was no need for a debate.

  25. Whether there was a debate is of limited interest and relevance.

    What’s VERY relevant is that people will feel ripped off and deceived. When Obama-loving young ‘uns get hit with “buy or get fined,” it won’t do any good for Klein, Obama, Michelle (watch out for her as ObamaCare ambassadress), or will.i.am to say “I TOLD you this would happen!” In fact, that seems like just about the worst thing they could do (next to flogging the young beasts of burden to their collective duties a la Ezekiel Emanuel).

    All Team Stupid has to do is ask voters in 2014 and 2016, “Is this what you had in mind?”

    1. Obama-loving young ‘uns

      They were stupid enough to buy *this*. They’ll be stupid enough to buy more. It must be nice to have such an easily manipulated constituency.

  26. Anyone who thinks a government-run program including more participants can do it at lower cost than the free market is a deluded cretin. At best. It has *never* happened, and *never* will.

  27. I don’t think the young and invincible crowd are going to buy in. Why would they? Pay the fine and IF you get sick buy insurance then. The incentives built into this piece of shit are all going in the wrong direction. Insurance should be insurance for catastrophic infrequent events, not prepaid health care plans for services you may never need. Let the price system work its magic and costs would be driven down.

    1. All the advice the young and invincible need to share can fit in a tweet:


      88 characters with spaces.

  28. Huh…I seem to remember some people complaining about this in 2009 and 2010. And I also seem to remember people in the media doing their best to ignore and ridicule these people and question their motives. I believe some of the words tossed around were “racist” and “teabagger”.

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