The Dumbest BS Talking Point of the Day belongs to...

Bankrate, according to their website, is "the Web's leading aggregator of financial rate information, offering an unparalleled depth and breadth of rate data and financial content." I've never heard of them before, but this is certainly possible.

However, a few weeks back they published the results of a survey in which they concluded that 51% of those who used the ACA healthcare exchanges last year don't plan on doing so again this year. In short, they're making it sound like up to half of the 8 million people who enrolled through last April (7.1 million of whom were still enrolled as of October 15th) plan on bailing this time around. 

Naturally, various right-wing news outlets like TownHall and the Daily Caller pounced all over this survey, claiming (again) that this proves that Obamacare is dead, dead, deader than dead.

I read something about this survey when it was published, but shrugged it off as likely nonsense (plus, I'm swamped with other stuff at the moment, both ACA-related and otherwise).

Fortunately, my fellow healthinsurance.org contributor Louise Norris decided to see what fresh hell was going on here, and sure enough, it's nonsense.

I wasn't planning on posting anything about it myself since she did such a great job, but today I learned that a Forbes piece by a John R. Graham included links to both my own site as well as this Bankrate survey, and concluded:

"A recent Bankrate survey of Obamacare customers – the few Americans who actually stuck with it and paid their premiums through October – reported that 51 percent of them will not buy Obamacare policies in 2015! That implies about 3.5 million drop-outs next year, which means that Obamacare would have to enroll 5.5 million new customers to hit HHS’ low-ball estimate for 2015.

Read Louise's whole piece; she makes several important points about the various ways in which the Bankrate survey may not bear any connection to reality, but the main point--which pretty much makes the entire survey meaningless--is the first one. Take a look at the Methodology explanation at the bottom of the original survey article itself:

Methodology: Bankrate's Health Insurance Pulse survey was conducted by phone between Sept. 25 and Oct. 19 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International with a nationally representative sample of 558 adults from households in the continental U.S. that visited the health exchanges during the previous enrollment season. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

Yes, that's right.

They didn't restrict the survey to people who had enrolled in a policy through one of the ACA exchanges...they surveyed anyone who had VISITED any of the exchange websites.

Yes, 8 million people did indeed enroll in healthcare policies after visiting HC.gov, CoveredCA.com and/or the other exchange sites between 10/1/13 and 4/19/14. That's true.

You know who else "visited" those websites in the continental U.S. during that timeframe? A METRIC TON OF OTHER PEOPLE AS WELL. Reporters who already had healthcare policies visited the exchange sites to see how they were operating (or not). Politicians (or their staff members) with healthcare policies visited the sites in order to see whether they'd provide "gotcha!" material for a campaign ad. Tech geeks with healthcare policies visited the sites just out of curiosity about the technical side. In general, millions upon millions of people with no intention of actually enrolling in a policy through the sites visited them just to see what all the fuss was about.

Good God. This is pathetic. Look, I've been a website developer for 15 years. Do you know how many people visit my site each month (from the United States)? About 1,700. Does that mean that I have 1,700 brand-new website clients every month? Of course not! I'm happy if I get one new client a month, and that's fine with me.

Now, if you were to survey how many of the dozen or so clients who signed with me last year plan on continuing to use my services this year, and 6 of them said they were moving elsewhere, that would be concerning.

Look. Anything's possible. It's certainly conceivable that only  half of the 2014 enrollees will keep their ACA exchange policies...but if so, that'd be an insane coincidence, because this Bankrate survey proves no such thing. Without restricting it to people who actually enrolled in a 2014 policy via the exchanges, It's just plain silly.

Gah.