After years of negative speculation on the part of the opponents of Obamacare, hard data is finally coming in with respect to the anticipated negative side-effects of the law.
The results are guaranteed to both surprise and depress those who have built their narrative around the effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s begin with the meme threatening that healthcare reform will lead to a serious decline in full-time employment as employers reduce workforce hours to below 30 per week in the effort to avoid their responsibility to provide health benefits to their employees.
It turns out that there has, in fact, been no such rush to reduce work hours. Indeed, numbers released last week reveal that precisely the opposite is taking place.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of part-time workers in the United States has fallen by 300,000 since March of 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law. What’s more, in the past year alone—the time period in which the nation was approaching the start date for Obamacare—full-time employment grew by over 2 million while part-time employment declined by 230,000.
And it gets even more interesting.
Despite the cries of anguish over the coming destruction of private sector work opportunities at the hands of Obamacare, it turns out that the only significant ‘cutter’ of work hours turns out to be in the public sector where cops, teachers, prison guards and the like are experiencing cuts in work time as cities, states and universities seek to avoid the obligations of the health reform law.
Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not the very same folks who strenuously oppose Obamacare who are constantly screaming for smaller government? Are these not the same people who have, for as many years as I can recall, been carping about swollen government payrolls?
But the false narrative that has been peddled to make us believe that the private sector can’t wait to lower our hours of employment turns out not to be the only false note being played by anti-Obamacare forces.
For months now, we have been pounded with the story of the millions of Americans who have lost their non-group, individual health insurance policy due to cancellations forced by Obamacare.
Yet, a new study just out by Lisa Clemans-Cope and Nathaniel Anderson of the Urban Institute tells a very different story.
How many times have readers, along with television and radio audiences, read or heard me point out that few ever expected to hang onto their individual insurance policy for longer than a year or two following date of purchase? Long before there was Obamacare, it was always clear that when someone purchased an individual health instance policy, it was pretty much a given that they would either be moving on to an employer provided group plan when they get a job or that their policy would respond to the ordinary, pre-Obamacare changes that occurred from year to year and result in the consumer having to purchasing a new plan after a short period of time.
Indeed, it was this very reality that made it clear to those who follow the health insurance industry that Obama’s “If you like your policy you can keep your policy” proclamation was a near impossibility for those participating in the individual marketplace. This simply wasn’t the way the individual market worked.
While Obamacare foes have been quick to jump on this statistic when it comes to condemning the President for uttering his promise that you could keep your insurance if you are happy with your policy, the same people have somehow managed to miss the reality that a huge percentage of those who received cancellation notices last year were going to get that notice even if the Affordable Care Act had never existed.
But that is not all that critics have been missing as they’ve sought to exploit the supposed high number of cancellations they claim are due to Obamacare.
To find out just how many people have really been put into an insurance fix, the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, in December of 2013, asked people between the ages of 18 and 64 the following question:
“Did you receive a notice in the past few months from a health insurance company saying that your policy is cancelled or will no longer be offered at the end of 2013?”
Note that the number of people who saw their policy cancelled because it did not meet the Obamacare minimum requirements was 18.6 percent—dangerously close to the 17 percent of individual policyholders who were losing their individual market policies pre-Obamacare.
Also note that the 18.6 percent equates to roughly 2.6 million people whose plans were cancelled as a result of Obamacare—a number well below the estimates of 5 million or considerably more being tossed about by Obamacare opposition.
So, what happens to these folks who saw their health insurance policy cancelled?
“While our sample size of those with non-group health insurance who report that their plan was cancelled due to ACA compliance is small (N=123), we estimate that over half of this population is likely to be eligible for coverage assistance, mostly through Marketplace subsidies. Consistent with these findings, other work by Urban Institute researchers estimatedthat slightly more than half of adults with pre-reform, nongroup coverage would be eligible for Marketplace subsidies or Medicaid.”
So what does this data tell us?
As a result of at least half of those cancelled being able to either enroll in a Medicaid program or receive subsidies on the healthcare exchanges, many—if not most—will now find health care coverage at a price lower than previously paid while greatly improving the quality of coverage.
Still, roughly one million people will have to replace their cancelled policy with something that may cost them more. This is not a good thing but it is far, far less dramatic than what we’ve been hearing. It is also a part of the expected upheaval that has always—and will always—result from the passage of reforms designed to benefit the greatest number of people. Traditionally, those who are disadvantaged in this way find that things are sorted out in amendments to the initial legislation, amendments that can only result when Republicans in Congress stop playing politics and begin the serious work of making the law better for Americans.
There is another problem noted in the study—
Because of the amount of focus placed on scaring the you-know-what out of people when it comes to the alleged dire effects of Obamacare rather than educating them, people remain in the dark as to what is available on the exchanges or via the state Medicaid programs.
Once again, politics trumps policy and the critical needs of those our elected officials are sworn to serve.
I highly encourage everyone—whether friend or foe of healthcare reform—to take a look at the study cited above and the BLS statistics. While most all would agree that there are some repairs that need to be made to the Affordable Care Act, workable fixes designed to benefit the public and improve American healthcare cannot happen so long as politicians, pundits and special interests are devoted to lying about what Obamacare means and what it does not mean to the American public.
Facts matter—even when they screw up an effective disinformation campaign.