The Congressional Budget Office threw a stink bomb into the healthcare debate with their conclusion that an additional 14 million Americans would be uninsured if Obamacare is replaced with what many are now calling “Ryancare,” the GOP replacement proposal.
The CBO might be right – they’re not partisan and like the Democrats, they’re usually able to count to ten without much assistance. (They might be wrong too, but more about that in a minute.)
The media is having a field day, and we knew they would, with the prediction that so many more Americans would be uninsured. But they’re leaving out one crucial detail:
Most of the people who would be uninsured would be in that position voluntarily. They’re not going to be “kicked off” their health care plan – they’ll just decide they don’t want coverage.
And that’s important. From the report:
“Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate,” CBO said.
Some would leave because they simply don’t want insurance, others might leave because of the higher premiums.
“Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums,” it added.
But it’s not the way the Associated Press and others are reporting it:
Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and that number would balloon to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ budget analysts projected Monday. Their report deals a stiff blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.
They’re claiming 14 million Americans would lose coverage. They won’t; not unless you can decide to lose something voluntarily.
They’re also claiming the report flies in the face of President Trump’s claim that any replacement plan would provide “insurance for everybody,” as he said. Maybe he should have said “insurance for everybody who wants it,” because one of the hallmarks of the GOP plan is supposed to choice.
So the press is reporting that people might choose not to buy something if they’re no longer forced to as huge news. And it’s not.
What is important to understand is that the “individual mandate” in Obamacare is directly tied to the requirement that insurers accept people with pre-existing conditions. If the mandate disappears, insurance companies say the pre-existing conditions clause won’t work.
And there’s this little caveat: The CBO may very well be wrong about the numbers. Back in 2010, they said that 21 million people would purchase insurance under Obamacare by the end of 2-16. They were off by almost ten million.