Has Anyone in America Actually Been Harmed by Obamacare?

| Thu Feb. 20, 2014 11:01 AM PST

I'm beginning to think there's not actually a single person in America who's been harmed by Obamacare. I know that seems unlikely, but take a look at the latest AFP ad pounding Obamacare. It features Julie Boonstra, whose insurance was canceled and replaced with a new policy after Obamacare took effect. Boonstra was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago and has been getting treatment ever since. But now, she says, her treatment is unaffordable. "This is serious," she says. "It's not a game."

But when Glenn Kessler checked into Boonstra's story, here's what he found. First, Boonstra had some initial problems with the Obamacare site. No surprise there. But then she found a plan. It allowed her to keep her doctor. She's still being treated. Her old plan cost $13,200 per year plus "low" out-of-pocket expenses. Her new plan costs a maximum of $13,202 per year. Here's what she told the Detroit News about her old plan:

It was extremely expensive and there are things as far as oral chemotherapies that need to be done to reduce the cost. ... But I was covered and I made having a great health plan a priority for me and that was taken away from me.

Let's recap: Boonstra kept her doctor. Her new plan is, on net, less expensive than her old plan. And presumably she's no longer required to compromise on the type of chemotherapy she receives. In other words, it appears to be superior on virtually every metric.

Boonstra herself is naturally unavailable for comment, and the best an unctuous AFP spokesperson could do to defend this ad is to point out that Boonstra's costs are a little more variable than in the past. Instead of paying a flat $1,100 per month plus low out-of-pocket costs, she sometimes pays more in a single month until she hits her annual out-of-pocket max. That's it.

This ad implies that Boonstra flatly can't afford coverage anymore. It implies that she could no longer see her old doctor. It implies that Obamacare is killing her. None of this is true. Boonstra's care is better and cheaper than it was before. The only downside is that her payments are slightly more erratic than in the past.

So here's my question: if this is the best AFP can do, does that mean that no one is truly being harmed by Obamacare? Hell, I'm a diehard defender of Obamacare, and even I concede that there ought to be at least hundreds of thousands of people who are truly worse off than they were with their old plans. But if that's the case, why is it that every single hard luck story like this falls apart under the barest scrutiny? Why can't AFP find someone whose premiums really have doubled and who really did lose her doctor and who really is having a hard time getting the care she used to get?

If this is happening to a lot of people, finding a dozen or so of them shouldn't be hard. But apparently it is. So maybe it's not actually happening to very many people at all?

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