The Heritage Foundation released yet another right-wing “study” of exchange prices. The only compliment that I have for it is that its fallacies are more transparent than in other right-wing “studies”.

Ultimately, if you want to know what exchange insurance will cost, you should go to

1. They ignore the uninsured entirely. They’re talking about the existing individual market; that is, people who don’t get employer-provided coverage and buy plans directly from insurance companies. That’s about 6% of the population.

There’s another 18% of the population who is in the individual market but can’t afford a plan. All of these agitprop studies from the right are only talking about the 6% of people who are healthy and wealthy enough to afford individual coverage.

2. They assume that everybody who currently gets individual coverage pays the lowest possible premium. That’s just obviously not the case, or else there’d only be 1 plan available in each market!

Ezra Klein puts it best: the $87/month plan in Kansas is a teaser. It’s basically impossible to enroll in that plan. This is comparing “apples” to “oranges you can’t buy”.

3. They average the premiums of all exchange plans, and imply that’s what you’ll expect to pay. You’re only going to enroll in one plan, and it’s probably going to be the one with the lowest premium.

This is the same fallacy that Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor has exploited tirelessly. If Acme Health Insurance is charging $1000/month for a Bronze plan, then nobody will enroll in Acme’s plan. That’s called “competition” and, when Republicans were halfway sane, it was something they claimed to support.

Now they say “having nobody buy your overpriced product” is communism.

However, Republicans are consistently using these plans to inflate the “average premium” (not the median premium, which is the only halfway meaningful statistic) so that it sounds like “this is what the average person will pay”.

4. They ignore subsidies. Obamacare in a nutshell is “your premium is based on how wealthy you are instead of how sick you are”. This will be the case for 88% of people who visit the exchange.

This is an important study because recent history has shown that the Heritage Foundation is inordinately powerful within right-wing media. The Nice Polite Republicans at NPR1 feel compelled to always quote somebody who has been trained on these talking points.

When somebody says “they cancelled my health plan and now my rates are going up!” that person is 1) a young, nationally-syndicated freelance journalist with a catastrophic plan or 2) wrong.

Everybody else on the individual market will see much lower rates.

It’s very important that we all tell our Obamacare stories in order to counteract the right-wing propaganda and the ineptitude of the media. The best way to get people to is to say “I got a $900-deductible plan for $75 a month”.


1 Seriously WVXU, you should be ashamed of yourselves. When you present right-wing propaganda as fact, you are lying to your audience.

I guess if you don’t lie, it’s liberal bias?

First, there is no way a 60 year old woman gets insurance for $300 a month.

Second, this woman will obviously qualify for subsidies if she only works part time. There is no way that she will pay more than $300 a month on the exchange. She will almost certainly be eligible for Medicaid.

Third, if somebody hijacks a press conference, that person is a trained activist.

Is it really this easy to fool reporters? Or are they just that cynical?

This woman is either lying or deeply confused. How can you listen to her and not say “Hey good news! You’re going to get free health insurance because you’re almost certainly eligible for Medicaid.”