This is… bad.
Background: Jay Carney, speaking as White House Press Secretary (notice how all of the administration’s official Obamacare cheerleaders are loyal partisans, instead of respected policy wonks?) tried to argue that Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” lie would only turn around to bite people in the individual insurance market. Not so fast, says Avik Roy:
Contrary to the reporting of NBC, the administration’s commentary in the Federal Register did not only refer to the individual market, but also the market for employer-sponsored health insurance.
“The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34552. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and get canceled. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.
How many people are exposed to these problems? 60 percent of Americans have private-sector health insurance—precisely the number that Jay Carney dismissed. As to the number of people facing cancellations, 51 percent of the employer-based market plus 53.5 percent of the non-group market (the middle of the administration’s range) amounts to 93 million Americans.
The reason that you haven’t heard about this? Barack Obama unilaterally – I have yet to hear a compelling legal justification for him being about to do this without Congressional approval, largely because there isn’t one – decided to delay the employer mandate for one year. Unless the President is planning to just keep delaying the employer mandate, those plans will be subject to Obamacare’s rules and restrictions in 2015. So, basically, imagine the situation we’re in now, only about five times as huge, and coming to a head just before the 2014 midterms.
Some people would argue that all of this represents the administration’s Machiavellian plan to institute single-payer health care. To which I say: if that is true then the Obama administration cannot schedule worth a darn; telling tens of millions of people Hey, we lied about your health care. Enjoy that 100% hike in premiums! just before a midterm election is not exactly an optimal political strategy. Which is a polite way of saying There’s dumb, and then there’s special dumb.
So, no, I don’t believe that it’s a plot; it’s just Barack Obama assuming, yet again, that there are Magical Pretty Policy Space Princess Unicorns out there whose sole job it is is to turn whatever blather comes out of Barack Obama’s mouth into a working government program. Mind you, I wish that there were, given that I live here and everything…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
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