Fact Checking Affordable Care Act Numbers

Friday, April 04, 2014


The deadline for signing up for Obamacare was this week, and the White House says it has reached its projected number of 7 million new enrollees. But how accurate is that claim? Bob talks with Glenn Kessler, who writes for the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog, about what we know and don't know about the ACA's numbers.


Glenn Kessler

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [6]


Last week, when Bob cited two different numbers for the same thing (how many people at that point had enrolled in healthcare through the exchanges) I thought it was just an egregious error.

But now I'm starting to think that Bob really secretly has it out for the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Not only was their no correction of the bizarre citing of two different numbers for the same thing, in one story, from last week. But, as others note, this story draws an false equivalency between the two sides of the debate about how well the ACA is doing. Oh, it's just a bunch of politicians lying on both sides, Bob snarkly chuckles on about with his buddy from the Washington Post.

Does it matter at all to Bob that however much Democrats might be fudging their numbers, basically they're right, when you do a reality check with that thing called reality? Whereas the Republicans are just making up numbers out of thin air and have no evidence to back them up.

Hey Bob, there are actually real numbers out there. There are good sources of data. RAND found that 9 million more Americans have healthcare covereage now. Gallup, the Urban Institute, ACAsignups.net, are all finding significant gains. RAND found that the story of people losing coverage (let alone a net loss of coverage for Americans in general) is utterly bogus.

Bob, does it bother you that all the the counterpoints to Democratic claims that you let Kessler cite without question are Republican talking points? Does it bother you at all that on one side of the argument all you have are Republican talking points with nothing behind them and on the other side of the argument, no matter how badly the Democrats did their personal math, you have a factual reality, established by third party organizations that really know how to do the math better than you or Kessler, and that backs up the general point the Democrats are making?

What's especially galling is that I've heard On The Media take others in the media to task, so often, for the bogusness of false equivalency reporting. But as soon as Bob makes a bunch of errors on numbers in one healthcare story, his fallback the next week is the old false equivalency, who knows, everything is made up argument.

I love On The Media, but I'm really losing faith. This is some bad reporting.

Apr. 11 2014 08:28 PM
Dick Mills from Marathon, Florida

Kessler used faulty logic and Bob failed to call him on it.

He said that 5 million people had their old policies cancelled, but that many of them simply rolled over to new policies and are not running around without insurance. Therefore, Kessler concludes that is it false that there is a net loss in the number of insured.

Kessler's error is that he does not define "many" 0.5 million of the 5 million would be many. 4.5 million of the 5 million would be many. Without putting a specific number on the "many", the question remains open as to a net loss or net gain.

Kessler does this often in his column, using the words "some" or "many" yet drawing conclusions as if they meant "nearly all."

Apr. 07 2014 04:23 PM
Ed Maloney from Rockville, Md

Politicians are lying when they're talking! Period! Not just when talking about Obamacare.

Apr. 06 2014 10:59 PM

Fact checking w/ the WaPo???? From Kessler, the great false equivalencer & fact fudger???

Where was Kaiser Permanente et al. who know health & health insurance & which numbers to rely on?

OTM goes PR ?

Apr. 06 2014 03:24 PM
DavidH from Chicago

Boy, for someone who ungratefully owes her insurance (and probably everything else) to wealth-redistribution victims, you sure sound entitled...and vituperative. Reminding you: "law of the land" is an artifice of gangs, and can change back just as conveniently. So don't get too grandiose or hurt yourself on the way to you stolen largesse.

Apr. 05 2014 04:42 PM
Linda Rose from Boulder Creek, CA

Just listened to your snarked up review of the ACA enrollment figures and really appreciated your equivalency approach to the truth (yay: go cynicism!) as to what they REAL numbers are in the final tally of how many people have signed up by this point. We won't really know how many total people have actually benefited from the ACA for months, if not years, but having read online and heard on talk shows how many grateful people there are who now have coverage who were without insurance before (including ME), it is clear that whether it is 5 million or 7 million or 10 million, this piece of legislation has lifted a significant weight off the shoulders of many of our citizens. Yeah, MSNBC cheered them on. Ha ha. Big partisan joke, right? But seriously, how many places have we been able to hear anything positive about this profound impact on the lives of people (unlike those such as yourselves benefiting from the group insurance plans from employers --like NPR?-- who've never had to endure the uncertainty of being uninsured)? Glad to know we can rely on the watchdogs of fairness at On The Media to let us know it's probably just a hyped up fabrication by the Obama Administration and the partisan press. Good work, sentinels of the fair and balanced! Who needs Faux News when we've got you to champion the actual truth? Sheesh. Give me a break. I'd wish the curse of going uninsured on the lot of you, but with the ACA now the law of the land, I guess none of you at OTM will ever have to suffer that indignity, will you?
Your treatment of this story has certainly given me cause to reevaluate my support of your program, which I have previously listened to loyally for a good long time. I hate when that happens. But hey, got to root out those damn liars wherever and whenever you can, right?

Apr. 05 2014 03:19 AM

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