After having a field day last Friday with a dreadfully inaccurate health care story on the front page of the Denver Post by freelance reporter Arthur Kane, we woke up this Sunday morning expecting the next in a series of such "exposés," and another day ripping it into bite-size pieces with help from our astute fact-checking readers. Mr. Kane recently solicited health insurance policy cancellation stories where the renewal premium offered–keep in mind that 96% of so-called "cancellations" in Colorado were in fact policy renewal offers–was higher, on the Denver Post's Facebook page. We've also heard rumors about muckraking inquiries from Kane at Connect for Health Colorado and related entities.
Interestingly, no such story appeared in the Sunday edition. Of course, that may mean nothing, but it may also be that Mr. Kane's troublingly inaccurate story Friday, which seems to have not been run through any kind of rudimentary fact-checking before publication on the front page of Friday's Denver Post, has inspired whatever editors Kane does have to subject him to more scrutiny. We're in no position to verify grumblings we've heard since Friday about Kane's past work at KMGH-TV and as an actual employee at the Denver Post, but from the chatter we've heard, it's likely that whoever is in an oversight position here got some distressed phone calls from the Chuck Plunketts of the world.
In the wake of Friday's experience on this blog and in social media, where the debunking of the anecdotal claims made in Kane's story were both comprehensive and detailed, we've heard from others and thought of ourselves lots of excellent questions with which to vet the next "Obamacare horror story"–either in the news or that you might hear from a friend. And naturally, we hope Arthur Kane's editors are writing these down:
- Have you contacted a Colorado health insurance Navigator (note proper noun) and/or Connect for Health Colorado to verify the information you're being given by non-experts about premiums, coverages, and deductibles?
- Has the subject explored all of the up-front tax credits and other cost reduction options, both personally and for businesses of all sizes including small businesses?
- In the case of a so-called "policy cancellation," what did the previous plan cover or exclude? What were the previous deductibles compared to present offerings?
- If a renewed policy or an objectively comparable new policy is more costly now than last year, even after all applicable subsidies, how does that increase compare to the pre-ACA historic rate of premium increases?
- Does the subject have a pre-existing condition that would have rendered them either uninsurable or prohibitively expensive to insure before the ACA?
- Of the subject's recurring medical needs, which of them are already addressed by the ACA's new basic required benefits?
- Did the old plan include any of the basic benefits under Obamacare, including the cap on out of pocket costs?
- Are you correctly reporting the penalty for not obtaining insurance? The actual penalty in 2014 will in most cases exceed $95–it's 1% of income, up to a maximum of the equivalent average premium for the basic "Bronze level" insurance plan.
We don't intend for this to be a complete list. Please add more questions in comments below. If they're really good, we'll update the post. What we hope most of all comes from this little exercise on the one issue of health insurance–we could come up with a similar list for gun safety or any number of issues–is a return to what has been so conspicuously lacking in our local political journalism lately.
That is, critical thinking.