January 23, 2014 6:35 pm -

The often-repeated talking point that 5 million people lost health coverage because of insurance cancellations fails to tell the story, and yet Republicans keep repeating it like a mantra. There have been 2.2 million signups, for one thing, that the 5 million number doesn’t take into account.

The “5 million” canceled plans comes from a list of Americans who received notices that their existing insurance plans were not compliant with the Affordable Care Act and thus would be canceled. But that number has barely budged since October.

So with the fumbled launch of and initially poor enrollment figures, it made for an irresistible talking point: 40 times more people had their insurance canceled than received insurance!

But, of course, the Web site eventually improved, enrollments picked up and the ratio dropped — and dropped. For a period, it was 10 to 1. Now, based on the data from the end of December, it’s more like 2 to 1.

You see where this is going, right? Soon this talking point will be turned on its head.

On top of that, any sort of ratio comparing canceled plans to plans obtained on the Obamacare exchanges is inherently misleading. As we have previously noted, many people who received notices that their plans were canceled were told they would be automatically enrolled in another plan by the same insurance company. So they were part of the group of people who “had their insurance canceled,” but they still ended up with private insurance anyway — just not through the exchanges. Thus they would not be listed as part of the 2.2 million.


D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.