The health care charts Obama doesn't want you to see

Article Highlights

  • Obama lied when he said people could keep their health plans

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  • Charts: the health care information Obama doesn't want you to see

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  • That 3% of Americans who will face changes in their health plans is more like 43% @stanveuger

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The Obama administration continues to struggle with the embarrassing rollout of its main domestic-policy scheme, Obamacare. The problems are not just limited to a dysfunctional website that took more time to build than it took to defeat Hitler after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

For example, a lot of focus has been on those Americans who had health insurance before the Affordable Care Act passed, who continue to have health insurance now, but whose policies will be canceled at the beginning of next year because of the law. These Americans are receiving especially large amounts of attention because President Obama lied over and over again when he promised before, during and even after the debate over his health care bill that if they liked their health care plan they could keep it. Period.

 

Now that it has become abundantly clear that the president was knowingly spouting untruths when he made this promise, the administration and its acolytes in media and academia are in full spin mode.

A prominent example of an administration lackey now dedicated to damage control is Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who does not, nominally, work for the administration. His talking point is that only millions and millions of Americans are negatively affected by the law’s new rules and regulations. That may sound like a weird talking point coming from someone who supports Obamacare, but this paradox is easily explained: In reality, dozens of millions of Americans, ten times more than he claims, are potential losers from Obamacare. And that is an inconvenient truth that he would like to keep from public view.

How does he do that? Well, his chart maker, Justin Wolfers of the Brookings Institution, who does not, nominally, work for the administration either, produced a convenient chart showing where the obfuscation occurs. I have conveniently recreated it here:



Professor Gruber claims that 80 percent of the population, mostly people with employer-provided health insurance, is unaffected and will not lose their current health insurance. This is a blatant falsehood. The only people who are unaffected are those whose plans will be "grandfathered" into Obamacare’s brave new world.

According to the administration’s own estimates, only half of those with employer plans fall into this category even now (see Table 3). In addition, large groups of people will lose their Medicare Advantage plans. A more honest version of the chart shown above would therefore look like this, though over time many more plans will lose their grandfathered status:



This chart is getting mighty complicated with all of these different subgroups. Fortunately it is easily summarized in a more straightforward manner:



Wow. 43 percent of the population, and growing. That is a lot of people, Professor Gruber. And I haven’t even labeled the "potential losers" from Obamacare’s massive tax and deficit increases as such. Please feel free to go ahead and update your charts and talking points.

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About the Author

 

Stan
Veuger

  • Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI.  His academic research focuses on political economy, and has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. He writes frequently for popular audiences on a variety of topics, including health and tax policy. He is a regular contributor to The Hill, The National Interest, U.S. News & World Report, and AEIdeas, AEI’s policy blog. Before joining AEI, Dr. Veuger was a teaching fellow at Harvard University and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is a board member of the Netherland-American Foundation in Washington and at The Bulwark, a quarterly public policy journal, and was a National Review Institute Washington Fellow. He is a graduate of Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and holds an M.Sc. in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, as well as A.M. and Ph.D. degrees, also in Economics, from Harvard University. His academic research website can be found here.


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