Las Vegas Review-Journal Uses Single Anecdote To Claim Obamacare A Failure

The Las Vegas Review-Journal used the story of a Nevadan who had trouble with his state's exchange to bash “the intentionally flawed design” of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange system while incorrectly claiming that people are forced to use the state exchanges to access coverage.

A March 19 editorial relayed the story of Larry Basich, an enrollee in the Nevada health insurance exchange who has paid his premiums but has not been provided coverage due to administrative errors by the exchange's contractor, Xerox. The Review-Journal editorial used Mr. Basich's story to call the exchanges “intentionally flawed” and claim Mr. Basich's problems could be solved if he was allowed to shop outside the exchange through a private insurer (emphasis added):

Mr. Basich's problems go to the failure of Obamacare nationwide and the intentionally flawed design of the exchanges. The government wanted to create a system that allowed some people buy insurance without seeing the actual price. That requires connectivity with federal databases to determine subsidy eligibility. Buying insurance and collecting subsidies are two entirely separate issues, and should have been treated that way. Would Mr. Basich be in this predicament if he'd simply been allowed to buy insurance through an insurer instead of the exchange?

The editorial continued on to link Mr. Basich's problems “to the failure of Obamacare nationwide” leading it to explain that the only real solution is the repeal and replacement of the ACA.

However, the Review-Journal is incorrect in its assertion that Mr. Basich was not allowed to buy insurance privately outside of the exchange. The option to purchase insurance outside of the exchange has always been available and unrestricted. In fact, due to the flawed roll out of the exchanges, the Obama administration has retro-actively extended the tax credits previously available on the exchanges to customers who were frustrated with enrollment and purchased insurance privately.

Furthermore, the editorial's use of a single negative anecdote to condemn the entire ACA ignores the many benefits the law in its entirety has brought to Nevada. At least 33,000 people have been able to sign up for coverage under the Nevada exchange. While this number is still low compared to other state reports, Nevada's daily enrollment for March is up 52 percent from the previous month.

The ACA is also responsible for the expansion of Medicaid in Nevada, which has driven a surge in enrollment since the state's Republican governor approved expansion. Through Medicaid expansion alone, nearly half of the uninsured population of Nevada could receive insurance coverage. In total, the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that approximately 621,000 Nevadans out of an estimated 624,900 uninsured will be eligible to receive coverage because of the ACA: