Sean Hannity has been following the Ted Cruz "Obamacare is ruining all our lives" on his Fox show, reinforcing the baseless belief in most Fox viewers that the law is somehow going to throw them to the health insurance wolves. That's despite the fact that the Fox demographic is pretty much all on Medicare. But Fox exists to reinforce Republican lies, so that's what they've been doing. Salon's Eric Stern happened to catch Hannity in the act, featuring four couples who swore they had been hurt by Obamacare, and decided to do a little fact checking . Debunking Hannity turned out to be "appallingly easy" for Stern when he conducted follow up interviews Hannity's guests.
First up was Paul Cox of Leicester, North Carolina, and his wife Michelle. They told Hannity that they have had to cut the hours of their employees in their construction business because they couldn't afford to insure them.Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? "Well," he said, "I haven't been forced to do so, it's just that I've chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs." What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he'd call me back. He never did.Actually, Cox could be getting a tax credit under Obamacare to help provide insurance to his four employees. I think he probably doesn't care as much about his employees' well-being as he wanted the Fox audience to believe. The only requirement for Cox under the law is that he informs his employees of the existence of the new health insurance exchange.
Then there's Allison Denijs who told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums and just got a letter from Blue Cross saying that her current policy wasn't in compliance with the law, so it was being discontinued and replaced. She also has a daughter with a pre-existing condition who hasn't been covered. She's angry because Obama promised that we could keep our existing policies. Stern asked if she'd actually checked out the exchange. She hadn't. Stern found "that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market."
Not a bad deal. Likewise, Stern found a pretty good deal on the exchange for the final couple, Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tennessee. They're mad because their kids are grown, but they have to have a policy that covers things they don't want like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth. Welcome to health insurance, Robbie and Tina. They're also mad because their insurance agent told them they would have to pay 50-75 percent more for a plan compliant with the law.Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, a 63 percent less than their current bill.Robbie and Tina need a new insurance agent. The thing for these people who are so mad that their current insurance policies are being discontinued is that they're being replaced with insurance plans that actually cover stuff. That's going to mean bigger premiums for some people, but what Hannity and all right-wing pundits and politicians leave out is that the majority of these people won't have to pay the full bill for those premiums. What Hannity-types are also not admitting is that this is a pretty tiny group of Americans, those who buy their insurance in the individual market and who were already insured. So is Obamacare hurting all Americans? Of course not, just the teeny-tiny bunch of die-hard conservatives who will refuse to be helped.