Story From “Bette in Spokane” in SOTU Not Entirely Accurate

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

On Tuesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers highlighted “Bette from Spokane” and the problems she faced as a result of Obamacare.

Not long ago I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who hoped the President’s health care law would save her money — but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.

For folks that track the realities of premium increases as a result of the ACA, it’s commonly understood that:

1.  In apples-to-apples comparisons of like-plans before and after Obamacare, it is extremely unlikely – perhaps impossible – for such a price spike to occur.

2.  Spikes like this are cited often as a result of apples-to-oranges comparisons to the point that the fiction has become fact for many.

That appears to be the case here, too.

In excellent reporting today by the David Wasson at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, the real story gets clarified.

But the “nearly $700 per month” increase in her premium that McMorris Rodgers cited in Tuesday night’s GOP response to the State of the Union address was based on the priciest option, a $1,200-a-month replacement plan that was pitched by Asuris Northwest to Grenier and her husband, Don.

The carrier also offered a less expensive, $1,052-per-month option in lieu of their soon-to-be-discontinued catastrophic coverage plan. And, Grenier acknowledged the couple probably could have shaved another $100 a month off the replacement policy costs by purchasing them from the state’s online portal, the Health Plan Finder website, but they chose to avoid the government health exchanges.

The justification of the rate increase of $700 comes by comparing a $10,000 deductible catastrophic plan Bette and her husband previously held to apparently the most generous plan available on the market, without any offsetting subsidies.

That isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.  But it made for good rhetoric, nevertheless.