Las Vegas Review Journal Sets Up False Comparison Between Obamacare And Walmart

The Las Vegas Review-Journal penned an editorial asserting that Walmart offers its employees better, more affordable insurance options than those available on the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the ACA was never intended to compete with employee based insurance, but rather is aimed at covering the millions of uninsured Americans who could not access coverage through an employer.

The January 9 editorial joined a chorus of conservative voices promoting a report published in the Washington Examiner which claimed that Walmart's employer based insurance offers better coverage than what is available on the ACA-established health care exchanges:

In tracking the train wreck of Obamacare, some anecdotes sound too far-fetched to be true. Take Richard Pollock's eye-opening article for the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. Mr. Pollock got health policy experts and independent insurance agents affiliated with the National Association of Health Underwriters to compare Wal-Mart's health insurance plans with those offered via Obamacare exchanges.

Wal-Mart, the retail titan constantly derided by unions and liberal activists as a bad corporate citizen that sends low-wage employees onto welfare rolls, won out by a mile. The company's benefits are far more comprehensive and far less expensive than Obamacare plans.

But the ACA was never meant to compete with affordable employee-based coverage, and it is difficult to compare one company's health care plan to the hundreds of options available to different consumers depending on their state, income level, and type of insurance they want.

According to an article in Public Health Reports, the ACA's main goal is to create universal coverage thereby allowing the approximately 42 million Americans without insurance to have some baseline insurance. The article explains (emphasis added):

Consisting of 10 separate legislative Titles, the Act has several major aims. The first--and central--aim is to achieve near-universal coverage and to do so through shared responsibility among government, individuals, and employers. A second aim is to improve the fairness, quality, and affordability of health insurance coverage. A third aim is to improve health-care value, quality, and efficiency while reducing wasteful spending and making the health-care system more accountable to a diverse patient population. A fourth aim is to strengthen primary health-care access while bringing about longer-term changes in the availability of primary and preventive health care. A fifth and final aim is to make strategic investments in the public's health, through both an expansion of clinical preventive care and community investments.

Beyond the central goal of extending coverage to the uninsured, the ACA also established a set of essential benefits that all insurance plans, even Walmart's, need to have in order to improve coverage for all patients. Many of those previously uninsured before the ACA's passage were unable to find insurance due to pre-existing conditions that made them risky to cover. Thanks to the ACA, those people living with chronic conditions cannot be denied affordable insurance coverage.

For example, the Associated Press reported that a Michigan woman hasn't been able to find affordable insurance since 2007 because of a pre-existing condition but with the ACA “will now pay about $175 a month.” In addition, the law also ensures that men and women are treated equally in the insurance market by banning higher premiums on women solely because of their gender.

Without the ACA and the subsidies it provides, many of the low income part-time workers employed by Walmart would probably be unlikely to receive health insurance at all.