A pattern has emerged. Someone will claim to be a victim of the Affordable Care Act; their story will be amplified by major news organizations; the public will be given a new reason to dislike the law; and then the entire story will be debunked – though the truth will receive far less attention.
And then once more yesterday.
Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.She says she’s angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare’s standards.“Please explain to me,” she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, “how my plan is a ‘substandard’ plan when … I’d be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin.”
Bartiromo didn’t follow up with the guest, so Michael Hiltzik did. He discovered that Deborah Cavallaro has a pretty awful health plan, which costs $293 a month in premiums, along with a deductible of $5,000 a year and a limit of two doctor visits a year, each of which come with a $40 copay. If she sees her physician more than twice, she’s responsible for 100% of the costs.
Under “Obamacare,” she can sign up for a “silver” coverage plan for $333 a month with a vastly reduced deductible and no limits on the number of times she’s able to see her doctor. She can also sign up for a “bronze” plan and pay as little as $194 a month. She’d have the same deductible she has now, but she’d save on premiums and have no limits on the number of visits.
Under either plan, this woman would have fewer health care costs and greater security with coverage that couldn’t be taken away.
When Cavallaro said during a televised interview that “for the first time in my whole life, I will be without insurance,” it simply didn’t make sense given the subsidized options available to her – including a plan that would save her money every month.
In other words, we have yet another person characterized by the media as a victim who really isn’t a victim at all. The dreaded “Obamacare” monster is allegedly hurting so many Americans, but news organizations keep failing to find genuine examples.
Meanwhile, anecdotes about people benefiting from the law are generally ignored.
This is getting a little out of hand. In a nation of 313 million people, I’m certain there will be examples of people who will be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act, even as the vast majority will benefit. But in the media’s rush to criticize the health care law, the public is now often confronted with anecdotal evidence that completely falls apart after routine and cursory scrutiny.
No one is well served by these health care stories that get debunked almost immediately after they’re aired.