The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) does some very good and objective work on health issues, but sometimes it just can’t help itself and turns into a bubble headed cheerleader for ObamaCare.
The latest example is an essay by KFF president Drew Altman on “Small Area Variations and the ACA’s Coverage expansion.” The point of the essay is that some areas of the country will be much more affected by ObamaCare than others. It’s a fairly obvious point. Even on a state-by-state basis, places like California and Texas with 20% or more uninsured will be more profoundly affected than Massachusetts with 5% or fewer uninsured. Altman takes it further and finds that the level of uninsured within a state varies considerably as well. This is drawn from a study KFF sponsored.
All of this is interesting and worthwhile information. The problem is that in Altman’s telling, the “effect” is an unmitigated “benefit.” He uses the term “benefit” as a verb fifteen times in this very short essay, including five times in a single paragraph:
In fact, there is wide variation in how many people will benefit from the ACA’s coverage expansions…really wide! It ranges from 2-4% of the non-elderly population who could benefit from coverage expansions in parts of states with broad coverage, such as Massachusetts and New York, to as much as 36-40% in parts of Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and California. PUMAs (Public Use Microdata Area) in the country benefiting the most are parts of the Miami area, areas northwest of Albuquerque, and Fort Worth. And the PUMAs benefiting the least are all in the Massachusetts suburbs. Of course, Massachusetts already has its own nearly universal coverage plan. On average across the country, 17% of the non-elderly population could benefit from the coverage expansions. (Emphasis added)
Really? Are we quite so sure that the effect will be beneficial? Assuming ObamaCare goes into effect as scheduled, people in those areas cited with 36% to 40% uninsured will be required to spend money on health insurance they are currently spending on food, housing, transportation, and the like. How will they pay for those other necessities once they are required to pay for Mr. Obama’s dream?
Further, if the numbers of insured people rise from 60% to 100% in a small area, and there is no increase in the number of providers, how accessible will services be? In fact, these folks may be required to pay insurance premiums yet have even worse access than they did before. Is that really a “benefit?” It sounds like an unmitigated disaster to me.
Now, Mr. Altman does make a small concession on this point. He writes –
But, there is a flip side to this picture. The more uninsured people there are in a PUMA, the greater their (sic) number that will be subject to the insurance mandate, which is the least popular provision of the ACA and the subject of the Supreme Court case to be heard this spring.
But this doesn’t cut it. It acknowledges only that the mandate isn’t very popular, not that it may not be a good idea or that it may have severely negative consequences in the lives of working people.
The idea that all of the people cited will be “affected” by ObamaCare is beyond dispute, whether they will “benefit” from it is very much in doubt.