Today a friend of mine posted a video to my Facebook done by famous financial adviser Dave Ramsey. Ramsey’s video claims to “break down the math” of the Affordable Care Act for both parties. Ramsey States:
“You’re not exempt from math if you’re a Republican, and you’re not exempt from math if you’re a Democrat. You’re not exempt from math if you’re a liberal, and you’re not exempt from math if you’re a conservative. You still have to do math.”
“Pull your head far enough out of your politics to have an original thought.”
Hoping that the article would in fact be bipartisan, or at least slightly moderate, I decided to give it a watch, only to be given another load of Republican propaganda. Ramsey goes on in his video to quote several typical Republican talking points, and even throws in some completely made up claims to bolster his view, including the following:
“January 1st, 2014 every insurance company is required to take on anyone, no matter how sick they are, and they cannot charge them more than someone who is not ill…You’re 500 lbs. you have diabetes, you’ve got cancer, you’ve had three heart attacks you’re going to pay the exact same premium as a perfectly healthy person.”
This is a complete falsification on Ramsey’s part. The ACA makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny people with preexisting conditions, I have seen no provision that says that they can’t be charged more (although there are some that put limits on how much more they can charge). If this were even remotely true, then everyone would be paying the same exact premium, no matter what. The truth is, there are a variety of health care options each person can choose from, and each person’s premium will be decided on a case-by-case basis, much like they are now. The only difference is, is that now insurance companies can’t refuse to insure you if you already have health issues or drop you once you develop them.
“Everyone is going to be charged the same. Translation: you are going to pay higher premiums to keep the insurance company open, so they don’t go broke. Because they are now going to have to cover people that they didn’t have to cover before… sick people. It’s a nice moral imperative, but it doesn’t change the math.”
Again, if everything Ramsey was saying were true, then he would be absolutely right, but… He’s completely wrong, and he is leaving out key figures in his equation. 1) Ramsey is lying about everyone being charged the same premium, 2) Ramsey is leaving out the fact that an estimated 30 million previously uninsured individuals will now be purchasing health insurance, and depending on the participation in the exchanges in your state, it could potentially have a significant effect on how much you pay per year. States with more participation will pay less, States with less (and this seems to be happening in those states that are stubbornly refusing to participate) will be paying more.
“If your premium went way up, your employer paying them might affect your raise. It might even affect the stability of your job because they might not be able to pay everybody, because they have higher costs of operating now… you paid for it, it’s called a pass-through, you’re going to pay for it.”
Ramsey is once again (not surprisingly) using Republican talking points here. There hasn’t been any evidence to suggest that employers are cutting back on raises or that the employer mandate included in the Affordable Care Act is effecting job stability. In fact, Wal-Mart is now offering health benefits and expanding it’s full-time workforce for 35,000 employees. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/09/25/wal-mart-returning-to-full-time-workers-obamacare-not-such-a-job-killer-after-all/2/)
Facts show that only .2% of businesses will have to pay the fee required by the employer mandate, so Ramsey’s claim is blown WAY out of proportion to say the least. Notice how he only uses words like “might” to bolster his claim? He never gives any supporting numbers, figures, or company names. This is fear mongering at it’s worst.
“46% of Americans pay NO income tax.”
I’m not quite sure what this has to do with anything, but I’ll address it anyway. I think it’s needless to say that this is another pretty large distortion of the truth. The main one being that his figures are from 2011. The following link will go into more detail about why he’s mostly wrong about this.
“This is not an angry thing, it’s a math thing… we are not exempt from math. Just because you think social security is a good idea does not mean you are right, you still have to do the math.”
Actually it is pretty much just an angry thing (or a Republican thing, if you want). If he truly wanted to “do the math” as he puts it, he would have included all the key figures needed to make his equations work. Instead he left out some important ones that will affect the premiums individuals will pay. He never even mentioned the tax credits that will be given to those individuals who make less than $45,000 a year or $95,000 for a family of four, which will significantly lower the out of pocket expenses that middle class Americans will have to pay (poor American’s won’t have to pay anything). His true leanings are revealed as well when he goes on to attack Social Security and calls it a failure, even though the real reason social security has supposedly “failed” is because the Federal Government has repeatedly borrowed from it. This program was supposed to be “untouchable” and was supposed to be self-sufficient, and would have been, had the government kept their hands out of it. In fact, up until 2000 there was a social security surplus, which some say is what allowed the Bush era tax cuts (which incidentally drained the social security trust funds.)
“In other words, that money is not invested, it is sent to Washington and promptly stolen by them.”
Ok, so he got this part right, but calling the social security program a failure because the government robbed it is like saying it’s a mugging victims fault for being robbed. It just doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.
Another interesting component that Mr. Ramsey failed to include in his “math” was the fact that insurance providers now have a cap on the profits that they can make off of the health (or lack of it) of American citizens. Considering that in 2012, the health care industry was entering their 4th year of record profits, and were still threatening rate hikes (some as high as 115%) in spite of the fact that they are projected to make an additional $2 billion in net income by 2019 (gains, I must point out, that are not being passed down to customers), I’d say that a profit-cap isn’t such a bad thing. He also neglects to mention that there are taxes that are being instituted (mostly on the rich), and the individual mandate for those that do not purchase health care, that will help pay for the program.
So, in spite of Dave Ramsey’s claim that he is “just trying to show both sides the math,” his real motive seems to be to spread more false information about the Affordable Care Act. He claims to be using math, but he doesn’t actually quote any numbers, except for one skewed percentage on how many American’s pay income tax, and he uses a lot of “mights” and twisted facts to spread fear and distrust of the program. He throws the word “math” out there to make it seem like he is being unbiased, when in reality he is so far in the right’s camp it’s ridiculous. Nice try Dave, but if you’re going to try and form an unbiased analysis, next time try not to use so many staunchly right-wing talking points to do it.
Written By: James Garcia (10/15/2013)
P.S. Some of the quotes may be slightly off. After watching the video I pulled the quotes from a transcript of the article done on another website (link to follow.) If you notice any errors in my quotations, feel free to let me know. The link also includes the video being rebutted.