As we've recently observed, conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act have pulled out the stops to paint the law as an unmitigated disaster--notwithstanding its documented gains in health insurance coverage for millions of Americans nationwide.
But we think we've found the dopiest entry in this competitive field. Tip your hat to Michael F. Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute, who wins the prize with a piece entitled "ACA Exchanges at risk." Cannon is director of health policy studies at Cato, which is a little scary. His column appeared April 22 on the opinion page of the Los Angeles Register (whatever that is) and also is published on the Cato website.
Its theme is that Obamacare "creates so many incentives for enrollees to drop their coverage" that this year's enrollment numbers can't be sustained. The piece goes even further, stating that people are financially better off if they drop their coverage and "wait until they get sick to re-enroll."
That argument places Cannon squarely in the disreputable camp of conservatives who advise Americans not to sign up for Obamacare because there's no downside to going without coverage. That was the implicit point made recently by the right-wing blogger Matt Drudge, who says he'll never sign up for Obamacare and claimed (implausibly) that he had already paid his 2014 penalty for shunning the ACA's legally mandated individual health coverage.
It should be obvious that advising anyone to go without health insurance, especially when it's been made affordable by the ACA, is the height of irresponsibility. That's even more true when the advice is based on nonsense.
So let's take a gander at where Cannon, Cato's health policy expert, goes off the rails.
First, he claims that "for most healthy people, going uninsured before Obamacare, at least for a time, was already a safe bet.... The odds that they would have to deal with unmet medical needs, or unpaid medical bills, were low."
These are the options, Cannon says, for "rational" people. Cato and its health policy expert plainly have a different definition for "rational" from the rest of us. But why would a truly rational person take their advice?