Don't Feed the Trolls: A Special Entry for a Special Visitor

Hat Tip To: 
Ruth 37

Contributor Ruth 37 sent a link to this open letter from Peter Lee from 2 days ago, regarding California's 1M QHP milestone and what CoveredCA's plans are going forward.

The number of people who have picked a Covered California health insurance plan now tops 1 million. This is an amazing accomplishment, and it means that with two weeks to go we have exceeded the highest “enhanced forecast” for the entire open-enrollment period. The health insurance companies report that more than 85 percent of those who have enrolled are paying their premium and getting coverage. That means 850,000 Californians are on their way to coverage through Covered California, which surpasses the top projection of 830,000....

While we get the word out about the March 31 deadline, it is important to remember that it also marks the beginning of a new era. Throughout 2014 we will be promoting enrollment for those who leave their job or have another major life change, and Medi-Cal enrollment is year round. And we’re already planning for the next open-enrollment period coming this fall. While we can and should celebrate the enrollment we’ve seen, we know we have much to learn from the past months as we seek to build a health care system that works for all Californians in the months and years to come. Thank you for being part of the effort between now and March 31 and in the months and years to come....

I'm including the highlighted portion for a very special reason.

A few days ago, I broke the cardinal rule of blogging and social media: I fed a troll. Specifically, I engaged in a back & forth with a guy who insisted that I don't have any clue what I'm talking about, that I "don't cite my sources" (insane, since every one of my sources is meticulously cited, dated and linked to)...and, in particular, that I'm "lying" about the number of California residents who have "fully" enrolled in exchange-based QHPs in California (and by extension, nationally). If you check the recent Disqus comments you'll see him pop up a few times today.

At first, he was arguing the "But how many have PAID???" line, which I've repeatedly addressed.

Interestingly, he was finally willing to (grudgingly) concede that yes, around 85% of "full enrollments" have indeed been paid to date.

However, he still insisted that the number of "full" enrollments only "counts" if the policy has actually been issued:

@charles_gaba @icowrich 85% of issued policies may be paid, but doe ABCC verify coveredCA's 268K policies selected are issued... Nope

— Michael (@onlinemajority) March 17, 2014

Now, he provided exactly no evidence that this is the case. He cited no report, no news article, no interview; he just insisted that the 85% only applies to some non-specific-but-presumably-much-smaller number of issued policies, not to the actual number enrolled in.

I have no idea why he was so fixated on Anthem Blue Cross of California specifically (he kept using that insurer alone, never mentioned any others), but his argument seemed to be that Anthem didn't actually receive payments for 85% of all 268,000 policies that people had enrolled in, but only received payments for some smaller amount.

In other words, he basically stated that Anthem has only issued, let's say, 100,000 of those 285,000, and that therefore only 85,000 of the 268,000 are actually paid for.

While the rest of his tweets were filled with blatant accusations of me lying and of "my reputation" being destroyed, and while he provided absolutely zero evidence of his theory being the case (while demanding that I contact Covered CA and/or Anthem Blue Cross to essentially accuse them of lying), his theory is at least mildly interesting.

Therefore, while I have no intention of calling all 300+ individual insurance companies to demand that they stop lying about their revenue stream and turn over their records at the behest of a rude FOX News-watching nutbag, this letter from Peter Lee of CoveredCA does come at an opportune time to nip this particular yahoo in the bud.

The statement above is very, very clear: Of the roughly 1 million and change QHP enrollments in California to date, a full 850,000 of them--85%--have been fully paid for, according to the actual insurance companies themselves.

Thanks for playing. [drops mike]