The Trouble With Sunny Obamacare Charts

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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What Are You Doing With Your Time on Earth? You Could Be Switching Health Plans! We spend a trillion dollars on Obamacare, and “‘winners’ probably outnumber ‘losers’ in the new marketplaces.” …”Probably”? OK!  See Jonathan Cohn’s ringing defense .

P.S.: You have  to read Cohn’s New Republic piece very closely to realize that the benchmark second-cheapest “silver” plans that are sometimes getting less costly (see Cohn’s Chart #4) are typically new entrants trying to grab market share, not the plans people actually already have (which may well be getting more expensive). … Obamacare boosters are quixotically telling consumers that they have to be ready to switch plans annually in order to savor the benefits of the A.C.A.’s competitive structure.  But having to switch plans constantly to save money is a huge anxiety-producing transaction cost, compared with (say) Medicare. There are worries about possible gaps in coverage,  doc switches, paperwork hassles. What if you need to change insurers in the middle of a course of treatment? It’s not like switching brands of gas.

P.P.S.: Cohn is still better than Ezra Klein, who simply omits any mention of the annoying wrinkle in those cheaper “silver” plans, allowing his sheep-like readers to think that the price of existing Obamacare exchange plans is “falling.” Cohn’s problem has always been that while he’s a booster he’s too honest to go Full Explainer. Better get with it!  Guy Vidra wants to deepen TNR‘s relationship with readers hits. …

P.P.P.S.: Of course, there’s also the issue of whether cheap silver plans will stay cheap when/if the reinsurance and risk corridor subsidies expire and insurers are forced to confront the full costs of providing coverage in the potentially risk-filled sump of the exchanges. …

Mickey Kaus