Ezra Klein: ObamaCare Premium Prices a 'Great Success'
It begins. ObamaCare is about a month old, has had an absolute debacle of a roll out, will cost upwards of 14 million the insurance Obama promised they could keep, and is causing even a sympathetic media to write story after story about sticker shock. But have no fear, Obama White House, Ezra Klein is here to officially declare Obama a "great success."
The White House's biggest frustration right now is that Obamacare's technical failures are obscuring its great success: Premiums are much lower than the Congressional Budget Office estimated when the law first passed.
In a new report for the liberal Center for American Progress, Topher Spiro and Jonathan Gruber quantify exactly how much lower. Spiro and Gruber find that the average individual premium in the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces was projected to be $4,700 in 2014. In fact, it's more like $3,936 -- $764, or 16 percent, lower than expected.
That's a big deal in terms of cheaper premiums, but it's also a big deal in terms of the budget: If the savings hold, the Affordable Care Act will cost $190 billion less than the CBO estimated over the next decade.
First off, calling the Center for American progress "liberal" is like calling an uzi a sidearm. CAP is an extreme-left organization, with very little credibility outside the fever swamps.
But the idea that Klein or anyone can call already declare the cost of premiums a success when, from what we know, fewer than 50,000 people have enrolled, just makes no sense. We have no real-life data. We have no idea how many people will ultimately enroll, and we most certainly have no idea how many young and healthy people will enroll -- which is going to make all the difference in pricing, especially in 2015.
CAP also makes the claim that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit, and that this wild success at keeping premium costs down will only further reduce the deficit. Apparently, both Klein and CAP missed the February Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that shows ObamaCare is projected to add $6.2 trillion to the long-term deficit.
Now take another look at Klein's first paragraph. Notice how this left-wing study doesn't compare the price people are paying now to what they will pay under ObamaCare. Instead, it compares prices to an "estimated" cost -- or what one might call a made up number that has nothing to do with what anyone in the real world is currently paying.
Confused? Well, all of this is answered if you keep reading. The rub arrives in Klein's second-to-the-last paragraph. Read carefully, it is slippery:
So the bottom line is that Obamacare makes insurance more accessible and more comprehensive, which raises average premiums, but it adds subsidies and competitive markets, which lower premiums. Whether premiums are higher or lower for an individual person depends on their precise situation. But premiums are, in general, lower than was expected when Obamacare passed.
You see, Klein sees ObamaCare's premium pricing as a "great success" because some left-wing political organization claims that premium prices are going to be lower than what the government estimated premiums would cost, not what they really cost. So please do forget about this.
And let's not forget that what Klein sees as "comprehensive" coverage is what many others would call "unnecessary coverage." How many millions have no need of coverage for birth control, prenatal care, mental health care, drug and alcohol care, and pediatric services? Regardless, ObamaCare forces you to pay for all of that, and more.
But Klein is such a coldhearted technocrat, that the least of his concerns is, "Whether premiums are higher or lower for an individual person". Because that doesn't really matter. What happens to real people is not what he defines as success. What matters is that some magical government number is supposedly being surpassed according to some left-wing study.
Real people losing their insurance, having their standard of living undermined by premium spikes, or losing their doctor, means nothing if the State's magical spreadsheet is able to balance.
And remember, according to Klein, the biased, statist Center for American Progress is a much more reliable source than the GAO for deficit projections of statist government programs like ObamaCare.
And now you know why Klein is one of President Obama's favorite writers.
FYI: The Washington Post presents Klein as an objective reporter.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC