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Those Unattainable Invincibles

MoveOn.org worries about adverse selection.

By

JAMES TARANTO
December 10, 2013
On Friday we analyzed a fatuous article in which the Washington Post’s Ryan Cooper tried to reassure his left-liberal readers that they needn’t worry about the next phase of the ObamaCare disaster–that is, the third phase, known as “adverse selection.” Adverse selection will occur when young, healthy adults fail to purchase insurance at inflated prices, which ObamaCare needs them to do to sustain the artificially low premiums of the middle-aged and those with pre-existing conditions.Well, you’ll never guess who’s terrified of adverse selection. “Only 29% of uninsured young people now say they plan to sign up for Obamacare,” warns an email we received today from one Mark Crain:

This could become a gigantic problem, because the only way we can afford to cover all the people with pre-existing conditions is if younger, healthier people enroll as well. If only sick people sign up, our entire health insurance system falls apart.

And who is this Mark Crain? He’s with MoveOn.org, that chronic affliction on the American body politic since 1998. Laughably, Crain blames adverse selection on “one-sided press coverage” and–get ready for it:

This isn’t happening by accident–Republicans have been spending huge amounts of money running despicable ads to convince young people they’d be better off uninsured.

Here’s the plan to fight back: First, we’re launching a major social media advertising campaign aimed at getting young people to sign up for health insurance. Second, we need to get the media to start paying attention to all the great things that are happening because of Obamacare, so people aren’t afraid to sign up.

His email requests a donation of $3. That and another $6,347 will cover the individual deductible on an ObamaCare bronze plan.

Of course Crain isn’t alone in blaming the media for ObamaCare’s failures. As we noted Dec. 2, even some lefty “journalists” have so little professional pride that they think their job is to provide what amounts to free advertising for the government.

And of course the left blames Republicans for absolutely everything wrong with anything anywhere. Even so, this is particularly rich. Today’s under-35 demographic (that is, 2008’s under-30 demographic) is not exactly known for its Republican leanings.

Adverse selection is a basic structural problem of ObamaCare. Blaming Republicans for it is like blaming George W. Bush for the weather. Oh wait, they do that too.

The shallow end of the risk pool.doyougotinsurance[sic].com

No state has made a more aggressive–or more idiotic–effort to recruit young policyholders than Colorado. The Centennial State has a Democrat-controlled government and its own insurance exchange, not to mention legal recreational marijuana under a 2012 initiative. The wacky weed doesn’t make an appearance in the ungrammatically named “Do You Got Insurance?” ad campaign, but it does use beer, wine, sex and sports–as well as less glamorous pursuits like pumpkin carving and bicycling–in an effort to sell insurance to those elusive invincibles.

The result, according to CNN: “As of November 30, just 11% of total enrollees in Colorado’s exchange fall into the targeted 18 to 34 age bracket. The majority of new enrollees–more than 60%–are between 45 and 65.” Total enrollment is only a bit more than 15,000, far less than the 250,000 policies being canceled according to an early November Denver Post report.

People in New Hampshire don’t seem too interested in ObamaCare either. The Union Leader reports from Portsmouth:

Certified health insurance marketplace navigators with Families First were at the public library on Monday evening to help people with understanding the Affordable Care Act and enrolling in plans, but few people took advantage of the opportunity.

Only about seven people came through during the hour and a half long session, which marketplace navigator Marcy Curtis said was actually a good turnout.

Overall, interest has been low in the sessions, no matter how much outreach they do, Curtis said. . . .

Curtis said people now without health insurance do not seem concerned about having insurance on Jan. 1, and may be waiting until closer to the enrollment period deadline of March 31, or risk paying a penalty.

An underappreciated quality of ObamaCare is just how politically perverse its design is. It is disrupting the lives of, and imposing huge costs on, people who actually cared enough to get insurance before, in order to provide “benefits” to people who didn’t care enough. Sure, there are some whose pre-existing conditions made them uninsurable and who may actually both be better off and appreciate it. But in their crazed drive for “comprehensive” “reform,” the Democrats don’t seem to have thought through the distribution of costs and benefits.

Meanwhile, the Post’s Ryan Cooper has another funny post, this one titled “Members of Congress Shocked to Discover Health Care System Sucks.” Cooper must have an oral fixation, because he also used “sucks” in his fatuous early post, and in a way that seems to run counter to this one: “Being uninsured sucks!” he claimed.

Now check out the start of his latest contribution:

Right now, one of the primary ways Congressional Republicans are attacking Obamacare is to cite the sob stories of Congressional staffers–and lawmakers themselves–who are having a bad experience with the law. Thanks to a bit of Republican legislative trolling that forced Members and their staffs onto the exchanges to make a political point, some are discovering that premiums are higher than they would have expected, having previously enjoyed the protection of government benefits that essentially shielded them from reality.

But if anything, the fact that Members of Congress are now having an unpleasant brush with the American health care system is a good thing. These Members are experiencing the same American health care system that the uninsured and people with preexisting conditions have been experiencing for many years. They are being forced to face the fact that American health care costs a lot, which, of course, is one of the reasons reform is so hard.

Got that? Cooper now describes ObamaCare as “the same American health care system that the uninsured and people with preexisting conditions have been experiencing for many years.” All that talk about reform? They were just kidding, bro!

Don’t Worry, We’ll All Be Dead in 90 Years 
Is there a Social Security crisis? No, and there won’t be for a very long time, according to the leftist magazine Mother Jones:

Last week, the president and vice-president of the centrist think-tank Third Way accused Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) of ignoring what they call Social Security’s “undebatable solvency crisis.” In an interview with Mother Jones, Warren fired back, countering the charge, and elaborating on how Social Security could be expanded.

“If we made no changes at all to Social Security,” Warren said, “it would continue to make payments at the current level for about 20 years,” meaning there is no immediate crisis facing the program, which assists some 58 million Americans. “Modest adjustments,” she added, “will make certain… we could increase benefits for those who need it most.”

Twenty years from now it’ll be 2033–way into the future! Which raises an interesting question: How soon is soon enough to take a foreseen problem seriously? According to another Mother Jones article, the answer is 87 years:

Here’s a list of some of the most dreaded abrupt changes (where abrupt means occurring within a period of a few decades or even years), and the probability that they’ll happen–even if nothing like the Hollywood version–before the year 2100.

Maybe they can blame global warming when Social Security becomes insolvent because 20 years seemed impossibly far in the future.

Fighting Fire With Fire 
In response to our Saturday exposé of Auburn University’s sham student-discipline system, David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy recounts his own brush with university “justice”–and how he defeated the effort to railroad him. A former friend had filed unspecified charges against Bernstein, which according to Bernstein were palpably absurd. The associate dean in charge of the process agreed, but declined to exercise his discretion to dismiss the charges:

I was at a loss as to how to proceed. Finally, an idea struck me. I marched over to the associate dean’s office, and filed a counter-claim against my accuser, on very similar grounds. The associate dean, said, “you can’t do that,” and I responded, “oh yes, according to the handbook I definitely can–as you told me, the handbook allows any student who feels he’s been wronged within the terms of the handbook to file a complaint, and I feel I’ve been wronged.” “But,” he added, “your charges are absurd.” “No more absurd,” I responded, “than the charges leveled against me, that you in fact agreed were absurd. I have notes of our conversation, and if [you] don’t allow my complaint ‘to play itself out,’ but let his continue, the university will be hearing from my attorney, and you will be named personally as a defendant.” The associate dean very soon “requested” that the original charges be dropped, on pains of him dismissing them outright.

This could be especially effective in cases involving sexual misconduct, because the rules there–applied in the vast majority of cases by female accusers against men–are ostensibly sex-neutral. A university that summarily rejected a man’s unsubstantiated claim of sexual victimization while accepting such a claim from a woman would be vulnerable to lawsuits for sex discrimination among other wrongs.

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