Thursday, February 16, 2017

Annals of Derp: Failing Obamacare or Failing Rightwing Arithmetic?

Oh, hai, Heritage Foundation,  it's been a while! What you been up to?
One of America's drug problems: Heritage Foundation economists are taking too many of them. Image via Newstarget.

In particular because that isn't—um—what the source says. Because in the first place the Milliman numbers aren't what that family pays. It's the cost of health care, according to their calculations, for the "typical family of four on a standard average PPO plan" as paid by the family itself, their employer, their insurer, and/or the government. What that "typical family" paid in 2015 was not $24,671, the total Milliman costs, but quite a bit less than half of that:

If you assume that their "typical" income is the mean income for a family of four of around $70,000, you can see what they've done: because $24,000 is 35% of $70K.

But if the idiots had read beyond the first page of the report they'd have seen that the actual average health expenses of that family are more like 14% of their income, including the premiums (about 9%), and the out-of-pocket (which for most people is likely to be near zero on the one hand or rather more than 5%, depending on what happened that year—since I broke my arm in December I've been paying $80 a week in copays to a physical therapist, which is not a small amount for me to come up with, but the Blue Cross is paying quite a bit more).

That's really not so shabby, though the employee's share of the premium has become way too high in recent years (getting close to 40% of the total). But you can't blame that on Obama (the ACA requires that the employee's share of the premium can't be more than 9.5% of income, and at the time it was passed employers were increasing the size of the employee's share every year to a point where it was going to be much more than that, especially at income levels lower than that "typical" $70K)—it would have been a lot worse without the Act.

And then how "typical" is that family of four anyway? Using the mean skews the number way up. Half of America's families earn less than $50K, which is the median, and that 9.5% cap means they're paying less than $5,000 a year. And many receiving expanded Medicaid (many more would be if Republican state legislature would allow it) or subsidized Exchange insurance, for costs lower still.

So the worst situation under the ACA is for those people earning well over the median who could be paying something more than 14% of their household income, if somebody in the family has a lot of health problems that year, but is just as likely to be well under 10%. For the less wealthy the situation is more favorable still.

But that 35% number Heritage is pushing like dope is complete and utter fiction. It's standard-issue Republican, and it's #FakeNews. It's been going on for years, and Trump is just the expansio ad absurdum.

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