PolitiFact: There’s no Obamacare “death spiral”

By now, we’re all familiar with the incessant GOP talking point that Obamacare is in a “death spiral.” Independent fact-checker PolitiFact looked into the issue, and found that the claim is absolutely “false.”

First, PolitiFact explains what an insurance death spiral is. Basically, increasing numbers of people leave the insurance market, leading to a smaller pool of insurers, which leads to higher premiums, which leads to even more people leaving. Death spiral.

Except that’s not actually happening with the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

First off, there’s been a 4% decrease in Obamacare enrollments since last year. But experts think it might be Trump’s fault. The Trump administration has cut back on marketing intended to get more people to sign up for Obamacare. There is no evidence, however, that healthy people are leaving the market — an important demographic as they tend to cost less.

PolitiFact goes on to note that the Congressional Budget Office, in its recent analysis of the Republican TrumpCare legislation, found that Obamacare is actually stable, as did an expert at Brookings.

Now, I will say, I worry when PolitiFact and others say that there’s no problem because 80% of people on Obamacare have their premiums subsidized, so they don’t see the price increases. I’m not rich, and my premiums aren’t subsidized. So we need to ensure that premiums don’t rise out of control. It’s not enough to say that “most” people won’t feel the increase. Many still will.

More importantly, I still worry about the Trump Administration’s death spiral taking Obamacare down with it. Trump has made clear that he’s happy to watch Obamacare go down in flames. And he’s also made clear that he may just help that happen. Trump has been threatening to cut off ACA subsidies to insurance companies; subsidies that help make health care affordable for low-income people. And that uncertainty, plus the uncertainty of GOP repeal efforts, has already caused next year’s premiums to skyrocket in some states. And the insurers have said outright, it’s the political climate in Washington that caused the spike.

And that’s the biggest danger to the ACA — Republicans, and in particular Donald Trump, vindictively trying to make Obamacare fail out of simple spite. Trump doesn’t like to lose, and much of his motivation in life and politics is based on revenge. There’s a real danger that Trump will simply sabotage our health care market in order to “prove” that “he was right.”

One final point on messaging. Be very careful about messaging over the coming months. The Republicans have been expert, and incessant, about using their “death spiral” talking point at every opportunity. This is the same way the GOP convinced the American people that the stimulus was a waste of money. They just repeat their talking point over and over and over, until it stuck. And they’re doing it again on the Affordable Care Act.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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One Response to “PolitiFact: There’s no Obamacare “death spiral””

  1. Demosthenes says:

    The only death spiral is with the use of the truth in today’s Trump GOP.

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