In a post over at BuzzFeed that makes me want to pound my head against my desk, Ben Smith proves that highly visible political pundits can write regularly about health insurance from 2009-2013 and yet – remarkably – can somehow still learn almost nothing about health insurance:
“Imminent elements of Obama’s grandest policy move, the health care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies…
[ObamaCare] aims to force the young, childless, and healthy — “Young Invincibles,” as they are said to think of themselves — to buy heath insurance, even if they think (and even perhaps make a rational, if risky, bet) that they don’t need it…
Meanwhile the AARP, the implacable lobby for retired people, has been energetically making the case that the young should pay up. In an interview, AARP legislative policy director David Certner didn’t contest the suggestion that young people would be forced to pay more, but argued that it was a matter of the common good, not simply the interest of his constituents.”
Oh for fish sakes.
Of course young people pay disproportionately in ObamaCare; they do so in any health insurance scheme. This has nothing to do with lobbying efforts; it has to do with the very definition of insurance: Younger people pay more in premium per individual healthcare dollars spent than old people because they’re healthier. They’re supposed to subsidize the elderly and the infirm. This isn’t a political conspiracy within the system Smith has cleverly uncovered ; it’s the very definition of insurance.
People who don’t get in auto accidents pay disproportionate premium-to-claim ratio when compared to those that do have accidents; the same is true of homeowners whose houses don’t burn down. You want to “screw” others in the insurance subsidization game? Start smoking in bed and leave your stove on when you go to work.
I can’t decide which scenario I find more likely: that Ben Smith knows all of this but still gets paid to write as if he doesn’t, or that he’s really this uninformed about the principal concept of something that he has been writing about since Obama has taken office.
Either way, it’s pretty embarrassing.