Thornton Holding Court.jpg

Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

New York Times Flunks Math: ACA Exchange Edition

Is zero fewer than two? Three? Four? Not to the geniuses who wrote this headline:

Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices

Obamacare online exchanges are being set up so that people who cannot currently afford insurance will be able to buy a plan that offers a group rate to all exchange participants. As these plans are unveiled the rates are turning out to be quite reasonable.
This frustrates some people. Who could be opposed to reasonable insurance rates? Two (allegedly) different groups:

A. Sadists. If you enjoy human suffering, forcing the sick and injured to choose between bankruptcy and death is like Sunday in the park. For these awful people, Obamacare is a cold and rainy day.
B. Republicans. They claim their reasoning is different than that of sadists, then they wave their hands.

Back to the NYT. The focus of the article is on health care plans offered through the online exchanges under Obamacare. Given the annoying fact that until October 1, these plans do not actually existthe article is necessarily padded out with unanswered questions and hypotheticals.

The central question for the NYT piece: how many doctors will be "in-network" for Obamacare plans? Will it be more or less? It will be less than "commercial plans", won't it? And if it's less, that's really bad, right? Then GOP criticism of the law is sorta correct, right? Maybe? But there is so much we don't know! And that's bad, right?

But if you don't have insurance, then you don't have a "commercial plan". How many doctors are "in-network" for the 48 million Americans without insurance? Well, all doctors are equally covered by your plan when you live the libertarian paradise of total choice. But in another, more accurate way, you have ZERO IN-NETWORK PROVIDERS.

So, let's say you join the world's crappiest Obamacare exchange(1) and have only two doctors to choose from. Is that "fewer choices" as stated by the NYT? Hell, no! It's an embarrassment of riches after a life without insurance. The vast majority of poor people genuinely believe the promise of choosing between two doctors, both covered by insurance, is too good to be true!

"Fewer Choices"? My ass.


(1) Totally hypothetical. Even the "Bronze" Plan in the most backassward state might turn out to be pretty good. 

What Krugman Said

If It Saves Just One Child's Life...