Howard Dean was forced to immediately withdraw his optimistic claim that “most of the people signing up [for Obamacare] are healthy” after Dr. Scott Gottlieb pulled up statistics contradicting the former Democratic presidential candidate.
The two appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace to discuss the battered healthcare law’s prospect in 2014. Dean, former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, admitted there would be “dislocations” — patients appearing at the doctor January 1 only to find their insurance plans had not been processed — but that there wouldn’t be “as many as most people think.”
“I think the reason there aren’t going to be as many as most people think is because most of the people who are getting signed up are healthy,” Dean contended. “So there’s not going to be a huge rush to the doctor on January 1. But there are going to be problems, there’s no doubt about it, and I think by March this whole thing is going to be running a lot more smoothly.”
Gottlieb, a Connecticut-based internist who is also a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, immediately disputed that claim. “If you look at the demographic data — the underlying trends and who’s enrolling — there’s evidence that it’s a less-healthy population than what the plan certainly hoped for, and probably older,” he responded.
Gottlieb noted that according to available data from state exchanges, most people are signing up for more expensive plans, rather than the cheaper plans expected to attract young, healthy consumers.
“Now, the only reason you’d buy a more expensive plan is if you think you’re going to tap the healthcare services,” Gottlieb explained. “Because effectively what you’re doing, you’re paying higher premiums to pay down your deductibles and co-pays, and you only do that if you think you’re going to use the healthcare. That’s an indication that this is a less-healthy population.”
Dean began a rambling retraction. “I think that — I think that’s true,” he said. “But, in general, most people don’t go to the doctor every single month. You have to be fairly unhealthy to have to do that. And — and so, I do — Scott’s not wrong about that though. I think he’s right about what he just said, that — that the data does show that less healthy people are signing up, younger people are signing up less frequently than hoped.”
Dean was also an internist, having done his residency in Vermont from 1978 to 1981 and practiced part-time until 1991, when he left behind the healing arts for a full-time career in the life-destroying, soul-sucking world of government.
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