Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bi-the-numbers vs Buy-the-numbers, and Conservative Angst

The United States has approximately 317,028,000 as of the last time anyone counted, give or take.

Three different 'conversations' took place this past week that highlighted that number - the 3rd most populous county in the world.  One had to do with the alleged insurance issues relating to cancellation and Obamacare.  The other had to do with two more states passing same sex marriage legislation, Illinois and Hawaii.  And the last one had to do with the passage of ENDA in the Senate, which would ban discrimination against the LGBT population.

All three relate to a similar number of people, as a percentage of the population, in terms of affecting millions of people. 

Conservatives claim to care about one group of people, those who have to change insurance, possibly to better and cheaper insurance, alleging horrible DISCRIMINATION because they have to make the change due to Obamacare instead of keeping their old policies. 

"Oh, WOE! A minority of people are being bullied by those mean liberals who don't want people to get sick or injured and die, or have to declare bankruptcy!", according to the radical right.

But these same conservatives don't give a tinker's damn when a similar number of people are discriminated against in a much wider range of ways, ranging from insurance discrimination, discrimination in civil rights like marriage, discrimination and very real disadvantages in taxation, and even discrimination in employment, housing, even in receiving service by businesses, the way lunch counters, hotels, and gas stations used to be able to discriminate by not serving blacks in the deep south.

Below, courtesy of Snopes, is a map showing the states with legal discriminatory practices:

The private market for health insurance involves roughly 5% of the population, but not all of those involve cancelled policies or junk insurance in conflict with the ACA.  It would be fair to estimate that number at around 3.5%, which is probably too generous.  That comes out to 11,095,980 people, potentially -- although the actual number is probably much lower, given how many Americans have NO health insurance.

In contrast, 3.8% of the U.S. adult population, as of 2011, identifies as gay or lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.  I was struck by the similarity of the percentages of the population.

Also in contrast, there were 48.6 million people in the U.S. in 2009 when Obamacare was passed and signed into law who did not have health insurance.  That is 15.7% of the population.  Here is the breakdown of that by state:
Percentage of people without health insurance coverage
by state, according to the
United States Census Bureau (2009).[1]

I call that the real 'millions and millions' of people more genuinely and more severely affected by the broken health care insurance problem.  Already an estimated 7 million of those are being covered so far, by adults who are continuing to be covered under their parents insurance policies.

In the effort by the right to exaggerate the number of people who are facing negative changes in their health insurance policies under Obamacare, the figures are being inflated.  The overwhelming number of people affected come from the private insurance market, where there are a lot of 'junk' insurance policies that are now being canceled by the insurance providers -- in some cases, even when those were grandfathered in by Obamacare for the time being.

In other words, SOME of the policies being canceled might not conform to the ACA, but could remain in effect for a while longer.  The other reality is that this has always been a volatile market, with lots of changes, including a tendency for there to be larger premium rate increases than other markets, due to the lesser amount of competition.

SOME of the less-ethical insurers (in my humble opinion, informed by experience in the insurance industry) are using this as a pretext to try to shift individual insurance buyers into far more expensive policies, when similarly - OR LESS - costly insurance with in most cases MUCH better coverage is available under the Obamacare exchanges. 

This reduces the number of people who are GENUINELY disadvantaged by the ACA to far fewer than the claimed millions and millions who are - to use Ted Cruz's phrase - being harmed by the ACA (see below).  The reality is that the numbers don't bother the radical right, they are quite happy to see millions upon millions harmed, either through lack of health care and health care insurance, or under-insurance, or through anti-LGBT discrimination.  They only care when it is an excuse for ideological bitching, and damn the facts.  This is all about their politics failing, and has nothing whatsoever to do with real harm or hurt.

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