Yesterday I posted about a Fort Worth Star Telegram article that leads with the tale of Whitney Johnson, a 26-year-old new mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). Her insurer just cancelled her policy, and according to Johnson, new insurance would cost her over $1,000 a month.The good news is that the thing that makes it a horror story isn't that Whitney Johnson lost her insurance and can't afford new coverage, because it turns out Johnson actually was able to purchase coverage for $350 a month—not the $1,000 she initially had told the newspaper.
What makes it a horror story is that when the Star Telegram learned that Johnson actually was able to get coverage, they did nothing to change their original report, even though it was at best incomplete. As Maggie Mahar, who wrote the post linked above, puts it:
This major daily’s nearly 200,000 daily readers saw the story that would lead them to believe that Americans who received cancellation notices were “left in limbo.” Most, it concluded, would wind up uninsured – or paying more than they could afford. As I’ve pointed out many times – and as more and more coverage is revealing – the opposite is true.Mahar researched the stories of three other "Obamacare losers" included in the Star Telegram's report; it turns out Johnson's story was not alone in being incomplete. In fact, of the four people in the report, three were tea party members. That alone doesn't prove anything, but when you've got a bunch of teapartiers who just so happen to make the perfect Obamacare victims, it can't hurt to be skeptical.
But according to Mahar, the reporter assigned to the story didn't have a background in health policy and even if she had, she was operating under such a tight deadline, she didn't have much time to do adequate research. When that happens, we end up with stuff like this.
In the end, as frustrating as it is to see Obamacare horror stories that don't add up, it's actually good news that they usually aren't what they seem to be, not just for the "victims" but also for the success of Obamacare. As long as Obamacare works, that's not something sloppy reporting can undo.