Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 7, 2014

Fact Check: AFP misuses another survey

Americans for Prosperity is again citing an unscientific survey on health premiums to attack Democratic supporters of Obamacare — this time claiming in a new TV ad that premiums are up “by nearly 40 percent” in Michigan.

But the ad — which targets Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in the Michigan Senate race — ignores some important caveats about the 40 percent figure:

The ad leaves the false impression that the rate hike applies to all health premiums, but the figure refers only to the no more than 5 percent of Michiganders who get insurance on the individual market.

The 40 percent figure is based on a survey of six insurance brokers in the state, and according to a survey expert has no statistical validity.

The figure, even if it were accurate, doesn’t account for improved coverage or government subsidies, which 80 percent of those in the new individual market exchanges are expected to receive.

The AFP ads began airing statewide in Michigan on May 28 and will run for several weeks. Peters, a three-term congressman, is locked in a see-saw battle with Republican and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to succeed Sen. Carl Levin, who is retiring. Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by billionaire businessman and conservative/libertarian political activist David Koch, has actively opposed Peters for his support of the Affordable Care Act, though its ads have not always been accurate about the effects of the law.

The ad’s narrator talks about rising costs for Michigan families and alleges that Peters is “making things worse, voting for Obamacare, driving up our health premiums by nearly 40 percent.”

The ad suggests health insurance premiums are going up nearly 40 percent for everyone in Michigan, and that’s simply not the case. Employer-sponsored plans, where most Americans (and Michiganders) get their coverage, have seen premiums growing at historically low rates in the past few years.

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