Monday, October 21, 2013

Are People Flat Out Lying About Rising Health Insurance Costs Under Health Care Reform? Well They Are on Fox News

But Then That’s Expected, so It’s Excused

In the old days, when there was  integrity in the media the print and broadcast journalism would actually check stories before they reported them.  Now Fox News has come along and done away with that time consuming, archaic practice.  Reality is what Fox News says is reality, actual reality is irrelevant if it contradicts the conservative view of the world.

Case in point are some folks who went on Fox News as part of the illustration of how health insurance costs are rising under health care reform.  Or Not.

Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

Wow, that sounds terrible, so terrible in fact that Eric Stern, a former policy aide to a former Montana Governor checked up the stories.  What he found, of course, was that what the folks on the show believed was simply not true.

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? 

“Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

Well sure, one of the participants on the show might be confused.  What about another.

Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $600 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to around $20,000 a year.

I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.

I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.

Wow, what a great story and expect Fox News to correct the wrong impression they gave right after the flock of pigs land.  What about the third story?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy that will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.
Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

Now it is true that Mr. Stern might be making all of this up.  But if the choice is between Fox News and anybody else as to which party is making things up, well .  . .

Facts, fighting conservative dogma since . . . . well since forever.


  1. This is just a variation of the time-honored Republican strategy of preying on people's fears. Fear goes hand in hand with ignorance.

  2. And they make a nice looking couple on Fox News