Politics & Policy

The Left’s New Story: Nobody Is Hurt by Obamacare

Are ACA horror stories just propaganda from right-wing papers like the Times and the Washington Post?

In what is rapidly becoming the latest liberal trope, left-wing news outlets and commentators have begun telling the world that there actually are no victims of Obamacare. Daring to do the impossible (again), the Left is telling America that all the stories of cancellations, lost plans, premium hikes, and other troubles are all just made up by vicious and deceitful right-wingers in order to defame their beautiful Obamacare.

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman uses his perch at the New York Times to argue that Obamacare is doing just fine, and conservative doomsday predictions won’t come true. Conservatives, knowing this, Krugman writes, are “groping toward a new strategy, one that relies on highlighting examples of the terrible harm Obamacare does. There’s only one problem: they haven’t managed to come up with any real examples.”

At MSNBC, Steve Benen takes up the same line, saying, “Conservative detractors have spent the last several months in a desperate search for ‘Obamacare victims.’ . . . The problem, of course, is that all of these examples, once they’re subjected to even minor scrutiny, have fallen apart — the ‘horror stories’ really aren’t so horrible.”

Or take Kevin Drum at Mother Jones who says, “I’m beginning to think there’s not actually a single person in America who’s been harmed by Obamacare.”

These claims are contradicted by the same news outlets, in some cases, that employ the people making the claims.

For example, if Paul Krugman read the paper he writes for, he would have heard about Mike Horrigan, a lifelong Democrat and a former Obamacare supporter. As the Times wrote in December, Horrigan’s “coverage by a state high-risk insurance program was eliminated, then replaced by a more expensive plan. His wife’s individual plan was canceled for being substandard, then suddenly renewed — also at a higher price.”

The Times also brought out the story of Barbara Meinwald, whose temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost her $5,000 more a year. “Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange,” Anemonia Hartocollis writes, “but she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered.”

Camille Sweeney, written about in the same article, was “dismayed” that neither her pediatrician nor general practitioner was on the plans offered on her state’s exchange.

The New York Times was not the only left-leaning news outlet telling stories of real people who have been hurt by Obamacare. The Washington Post, for example, writes about Obamacare’s “biggest losers” who had their plans canceled but could not access the health exchange to get another plan to begin coverage January 1. One man, John Gisler, was forced to look outside the exchange, forgoing thousands of dollars in subsidies, because the plan for his son with a rare degenerative disease was canceled and he could not access HealthCare.gov to buy a new one in time.

The Los Angeles Times writes about many people who have fared badly under Obamacare, including Jennifer Harris, whose old plan was canceled and who found the cheapest alternative under Obamacare is nearly 243 percent more than her old one.

The reports from left-leaning media alone go on and on. If liberals really believe nobody has been hurt by Obamacare, they’re denying the settled consensus of the most prominent media in the country.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


The Latest