The Not-So-Triumphant Return of Sharyl Attkisson

Hat Tip To: 

Regular readers may recall my thorough debunking of Sharyll Attkisson's ludicrous claim that only 3.4 million people out of the "38 million" who are "eligible for coverage under Obamacare" have actually received healthcare coverage since the law went into effect.

As I noted, these numbers were just a wee bit off. The "3.4 million" is actually more like "11.8 million", and while the "38 million" is actually reasonably close if you're only including those who were a) uninsured last year and b) who qualify for either Medicaid or tax credits via the ACA exchanges (more like 36.4 million), even this is stupid because no one in the Obama administration, HHS, CMS or the CBO ever claimed that all 36.4 million would be insured in the first year of the exchanges.

In other words, instead of only 9% covered forever and ever, it's closer to 32% covered in the first year. Plus, of course, tens of millions of other people are also covered by benefits such as never being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, never being dropped from their policy for no reason when they need it most ("recission"), never having a cap placed on annual or lifetime benefits (meaning they won't face medical bankruptcies) and so on.

But I digress.

Last night, Ms. Attkisson tweeted the following:

Interesting. My preventive care dr. appt. used to cost a $25 co-pay. Now, after ACA, it costs me $900. Won't be doing that anymore!

— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) October 19, 2014

...and that was it.

No other details or follow-up provided in any subsequent tweets, no links to an explanation of this apparently dramatic "'price spike".

Obviously Twitter is rather limiting for detailed explanations, but she provided no additional information regarding how $25 magically turned into $900. She specified a $25 "co-pay". The only clarification she's provided as of this writing is that the $900 wasn't a "co-pay" but a "deductible". So, you know, there's that.

She provides no information about her old policy beyond the co-pay amount, or about her new policy beyond the deductible apparently being at least $900.

  • When does "used to cost $25" mean? During her time at CBS, which presumably had pretty good benefits? Does it mean in last week? Last year? 1985?
  • If she's referring to her CBS time, how heavily subsidized was her policy by her employer?
  • Is her new policy also via ESI, or did she purchase it on the individual market?
  • If on the individual market, did she get her new policy via an ACA exchange, or directly through the insurance company?
  • Which insurance company was she through before, and which one is she enrolled though now?
  • What metal level is her new policy vs. her old one?
  • What's her monthly premium? What was it before?
  • What's her deductible? What was it before?
  • How about her other out-of-pocket costs such as co-pays/etc., then and now?
  • Was her old policy an HMO or a PPO? How about the new one? 
  • What other choices did she have besides the policy she currently has? How many other companies, policies, etc. were available besides the one that she decided to go with?

So far she hasn't answered any of these questions (and I'm sure I'm missing a few). Needless to say, very few of the responses from her followers seem to care either.

Back in June, I posted (with my wife's permission) my own family's "apples to apples" comparison of our own pre-ACA policy from Blue Cross vs. our new ACA-compliant policy, also from Blue Cross. In our case, based on the premiums alone, we're paying about $2,000 more per year...but our total cost is turning out to be about $4,000 less per year. I provided a complete breakdown of every cost to date.

Now, obviously this will vary from case to case; some people no doubt are paying more overall...but the point, of course, is that context matters. Without providing answers to the above questions, Ms. Attkisson's claim is essentially as meaningless as if I stated that "My old car payment was $50/month, but ever since the new CAFE standards went into effect, my new car is costing me $700/month!"...and then it turns out that I used to have an old beat-up Geo Metro but replaced it with a brand-new Mercedes.