Why have people heard so many bogus Obamacare horror stories?

MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

We look at what Hiltzik left out: We just looked in on MSNBC. What we saw was sad.

On this deadline day for health care, the warring cable tribes are fighting about the numbers. One tribe is ratcheting the claim of 6 million enrollees up. The other tribe is working hard to whittle the number down.

Our “progressive” cable tribunes would rather die than present the larger picture about our health care. Let’s say sixteen million sign up. Data like these will remain:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:
United States: $8508
Canada: $4522
Germany: $4495
France: $4118
Australia: $3800
United Kingdom: $3405
Finland: $3374
Japan: $3213
Spain: $3072
Italy: $3012
In those other developed nations, everyone is covered; overall health care outcomes are at least as good as ours. And yet, those nations spend half as much per person, or less, than we spend in this country.

That vast per person over-spending represents various forms of corporate and professional looting. For a family of four, go ahead:

Multiply the difference between France and the U.S. by four.

We have never seen those data presented or discussed on The One True Liberal Channel. The children also never tell you about your nation’s actual test scores, which have been rising for decades, despite the zombie ideas you’re constantly handed about our ratty public school teachers and our pathetic kids.

Today, our cable clans are arguing about a little bit more than six million people versus somewhat less than six million. Why do you think those overpaid stooges are like that?

Today, let’s review another question, the question Kevin Drum asked last week. Why have the American people heard so many horror stories about Obamacare? So many bogus horror stories?

For our post from last Wednesday, click here.

Brother Drum asked a fairly good question: Why do we hear so many horror stories which are actually bogus? He linked to this 1500-word piece by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

In our view, Hiltzik’s report partially answers that question. We don’t mean that as a compliment.

As we showed you last week, Hiltzik offered a news report about a woman named Rita Rizzo, who had finally gotten decent insurance for herself and her husband. He compared that good-news story to an Obamacare horror story, a bogus story Hiltzik himself helped debunk last year:
HILTZIK (3/23/14): In December, Rizzo signed up for Obamacare. She now has a policy that covers her and Vincent together, including all his meds and lab work, for $379 a month, with a $2,000 family deductible.

"I feel like I died and went to insurance heaven," she says.

But you haven't heard Rizzo's story unless you tuned in to NBC Nightly News on New Year's Day or scanned a piece by Politico about a week later. In the meantime, the airwaves and news columns have been filled to overflowing with horrific tales from consumers blaming Obamacare for huge premium increases, lost access to doctors and technical frustrations—many of these concerns false or the product of misunderstanding or unfamiliarity with the law.

While Rizzo was working her way to thousands of dollars in annual savings, for example, Southern California Realtor Deborah Cavallaro was making the rounds of NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CBS, Fox and public radio's Marketplace program, talking about how her premium was about to rise some 65% because of the "Unaffordable" Care Act. What her viewers and listeners didn't learn was that she hadn't checked the rates on California's insurance exchange, where (as we determined for her) she would have found a replacement policy for less than she'd been paying.
Last week, we asked if you saw something missing there. This is what we meant:

Quite correctly, Hiltzik named a list of major news orgs which broadcast Cavallaro’s bogus story. But do you see the name of a single journalist anywhere in his report?

Who broadcast the bogus story at NBC News? Do you see that person’s name in Hiltzik’s 1500-word piece? Do you see any sign that Hiltzik called that person and asked him how he got tooken?

Who fed the bogus Obamacare story to that NBC News reporter? Why didn't he check it out before it went on the air??

Sorry, kids! It’s the first law of the guild—you don’t embarrass guild members. You do not name their actual names. You don’t tell the public, in any detail, about the way their favorite stars went out and misinformed them.

Last October, Hiltzik debunked Cavallaro’s report. Ever so briefly, ever so gently, he actually named one major broadcaster, though he did so very much in passing.

No one got named in Hiltzik’s more recent report. It simply isn’t done!


Why did NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander go on the Today Show last year and peddle Cavallaro’s story? Why didn’t he fact-check it first?

We’d like to see that question asked of Alexander, and of the various overpaid stars who broadcast the story elsewhere.

To his credit, Hiltzik corrected the bogus tale; he didn’t name the various stars who catered the public bull roast. For that matter, we thought Drum was fairly soft in his overall approach to this topic, asking a question instead of opining—and his commenters got terminally distracted by the very first troll they met.

Drum's question went unanswered, undiscussed. The commenters burned the bulk of the thread calling each other names.

Why does the public get served so many false tales? We’d like to see the Alexanders asked that obvious question.

That said, the naming of names simply isn’t done, unless the name is O’Reilly! To all appearances, our corporate stars on liberal cable aren’t planning to break this Hard Pundit Law. Nor will they mention the health care looting which will continue even if sixteen million sign up.

Rising test scores? Who cares about that? Our cable stars aren’t going to go there. People! Good jobs at good pay!


  1. Bob States
    "Health care spending, per person, 2011:
    United States: $8508
    Canada: $4522"

    Then he states
    "And yet, those nations spend half as much per person, or less, than we spend in this country."

    Is 4522 half or less of 8508? Our calculations show it isn't. Why did Bob say it was? is he playing us as rubes again, lying about math so he can stick to his script("they pay half or less what we pay")? can't Bob do basic math?

    Let's ignore everything else and harp on this vital point for the next three months.

    Until this is resolved, all else is in this story is unimportant.

    1. There you go again, you vicious troll who makes both me and Bob weep manly tears.

      Don't you know by now that it gets Bobfans all upset when you apply the standards Bob sets for others to Bob himself?

      Yes, we can only imagine the full-blown week-long series Bob would write had Rachel Maddow had said that $4522 was half of $8508, while he ignored all those low-income kids in the process.

      But Bob Standards are never meant for Bob.

    2. Interesting also how "women are paid 77 cents on the dollar" is a bogus claim that has any number of explanations.

      But "other countries spend half or less on health care" needs no further examination.

      Just accept it to be true because Bob says so.

    3. Hey. Follow the link! The stats are from an article about Finland. Brought to you by the people who pimp the cult of PISA.

      I don't believe these numbers. TDH gets results.

    4. Even though I am very pro-Bob, I really laughed at the first post. Well done, sir.

    5. Yes "we can only imagine" had Rachel Maddow said such a thing because neither Rachel Maddow, or any other corporate liberal that I'm aware of has ever really addressed the issue. Judging from the silly comments here, I don't think they're capable. Rodeo clown deportment- yes, weighty issues that effect real people- not so much.

    6. Dude. Did you save that comment for April fool's day or do you always show up this late and talk to yourself.

  2. I agree with you Bob.

    Why didn't you call Michael Barbaro of the New York Times and ask him who on Christie's staff oversold that dud of a report to him? (And bless you for covering your ass to save it further embarrassment when Maddow turned out to be right in advance about it.)

    Why don't you call producers at the cable shows and ask them why they don't cover the good news about out black children's test scores.

    In fact, why didn't you call Hiltzik and ask him point blank why he did not name names?

    Finally, why haven't you called Rachel Maddow and asked how many of her screws are loose?

  3. "Why have people heard so many bogus Obamacare horror stories?"

    Duh, Bob. If you hadn't stopped writing about the right-wing echo chamber about 13 years ago, you'd know the answer.

    But unlike those thrilling days of yesteryear when there was no effective pushback on the War on Gore, each and every so-called "horror story" promoted by right-wing "unthink" tanks, and repeated dutifully by the echo chamber gets quickly and thoroughly debunked by the "mainstream media." And especially by those elements of the "mainstream media" that Bob has learned to loathe.

    And yes, Bob. That includes the Cavallaro story, as well as "Bette from Spokane."

    1. "Echo chamber" or not the right has a very effective, focused and purposeful media. What passes for liberal media is very ineffectual by comparison. Whereas conservatives are politicking nonstop, liberals are off chasing local traffic jam stories that have absolutely no impact on 99%+ of voters lives all because their media stars happen to be "obsessed" over and believe it has some great symbolic significance. Tell me how it all works out on 11/5?


  4. I believe the math shows Canadians pay 53% of what we do, not 50% unless the battery has run down on my little machine. To me that's close enough. Don't you wish our average cost were even 63%.

    1. Ah, but is "women are paid 77 cents on the dollar" close enough for Bob? Of course not! We must explore that number in great detail and investigate every possible explanation, answer all questions we can think up, then think up some more.

      In short, no fudging of facts, numbers, and especially test scores are ever allowed in Bob's World to even the slightest degree. Any deviation from 100 percent accuracy turns us into lizard brains and rubes.

      Unless, of course, Bob does it.

  5. "That vast per person over-spending represents various forms of corporate and professional looting."

    In a country that is told we have the best quality health care in the world, perhaps the terms corporate and professional looting may be off putting to some. Like rape culture.

    1. Yes, and doesn't it appeal to the lizard brains of rubes to boil down such a complicated issue as the high cost of U.S. health care to the shorthand of "corporate and professional looting".

      We can think of other factors that "seem" to be at play. Like, for instance, the fact that Americans are addicted to fast food, for a variety of reasons. We eat lots of junk. And we drink lots of beer, too. And high-sugar soft drinks. By the quart and half-gallon.

      Another cultural phenomenon that might be at play -- we run to the doctor for a prescription when we have toenail fungus. I wonder how concerned they are about toenail fungus in, say, France.

      Or "erectile dysfunction" for that matter.