The headline piqued our curiosity: “Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending by $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four.” Wow, that is a lot, considering that the “typical family of four” is pretty poor in Obama’s America. Might this figure be chicanery, we wondered? Shenanigans, perhaps? Bull-hockey? So we clicked the link that some crusading #Obamacare twit had tweeted on the Twitter and suddenly, oh no, it was a Forbes! Did Forbes used to be good? We vaguely remember them being good once. Anyway, yes it’s pure nonsense, because here, in author Chris Conover’s own words, is how the $7,450 figure was figgered:
So I have taken the latest year-by-year projections [of additional health spending attributable to the Affordable Care Act], divided by the projected U.S. population to determine the added amount per person and multiplied the result by 4.
Interesting, and we have taken a ham sandwich, divided by the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin (to determine the sound of one hand clapping) and multiplied the result by You Lie!
In other words, this is incredibly stupid. Sure, the latest Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services report [PDF] says that “Obamacare” will lead to “roughly $621 billion” in additional health spending over the next ten years. But that emphatically does not mean that you, me, and the other two members of our typical family will be paying this money out of pocket. Most of it will be paid out by insurance companies, who will have a whole bunch of new policyholders because of Obamacare. Much of it will be paid by the government in subsidies and increased Medicaid enrollment. And yes, some of it will be paid by healthy (for now), well-off (for now) young (for now!) people who would otherwise forgo insurance and roll the dice on not ever being carted to the hospital in an ambulance.
Another way of looking at this is that the Affordable Care Act will insure an estimated 30 million additional Americans over ten years at an additional cost of about $2,070 per additional insured per year. We don’t know if that is a good deal because we are not experts on accounting, actuarial sciences, health policy, or economics.
Incidentally, you know how some people are complaining that Obamacare is, or might be, making the cost of their insurance go up? Do you think they realize, or care, that their lower rate was dependent on very sick people not being able to get any insurance, at all? Or maybe running into lifetime benefits caps, and dying penniless? And let’s leave aside for now the inconvenient detail that in states that didn’t drag their feet, individual insurance plans on the exchanges are actually likely to cost less than initial projections.
And lest you think the author later admits that this $7,450 figure is just to mess with you, or to make you “think,” and isn’t very useful in terms of policy, this is a sentence he wrote:
[L]et’s spare strapped Americans from having to find $657 in spare change between their couch cushions next year.
Hey Americans, what are you doing with Mitt Romney’s couch?