Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 22, 2014

Fact Check: Boehner says Obamacare has resulted in a 'net loss' of insured

Reporter: “Mr. Speaker, you said a minute ago there are fewer people today with health insurance than when the law was passed. I want to make sure I understand. You’re saying that Obamacare has resulted in a net loss of insurance?”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio: “I believe that to be the case. When you look at the 6 million Americans who have lost their policies and some - they claim 4.2 million people who have signed up - I don’t know how many have actually paid for it - that would indicate to me a net loss of people with health insurance. And I actually do believe that to be the case.”

— Exchange at Boehner’s weekly news conference, March 13, 2014

What are we to make of this statement by the most senior Republican in the House? He apparently believes that the Affordable Care Act is such a loser that it has resulted in a “net loss of people with health insurance.” Many readers tweeted us or wrote e-mails asking whether this is indeed the case.

Although we have tackled this question in the past, rarely has it been put so starkly by a top GOP official. So let’s look at the numbers again.

The Facts

Boehner’s staff did not want to engage The Fact Checker in a discussion about the speaker’s math, but it is fairly clear that he views it as a simple matter of subtraction.

Boehner said about 6 million people received notices that their insurance was canceled. (That number may be a little high - usually it is estimated at nearly 5 million.) Then he notes that HealthCare.gov reports that 4.2 million have selected a plan. (As Boehner pointed out, it is still unclear how many actually paid for their first premium, but limited state data indicate it’s at least 80 percent.) So 4 million minus 6 million equals a net loss of 2 million.

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