This morning, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s office announced in a news release that Washingtonians who buy health insurance through the state’s Healthplanfinder exchange can expect a significant increase in rates when the time comes to enroll in a plan for the 2018 calendar year.
“I’m very concerned by the proposed changes we’re seeing,” Kreidler said in the release. “I know these numbers will be extremely upsetting to people who buy their own health insurance. They’re upsetting to me.”
“We’re going to spend the next several months reviewing every assumption insurers have made to make sure their proposed increases are justified.”
The Seattle Times tasked reporter Bob Young with filing a story on the news. Disappointingly, instead of weaving together many different perspectives to provide a nuanced take on the rate increases, Young opted to rely heavily on the views of a national right wing think tank to drive his story.
The result is an unbalanced article that might as well have been written by someone working inside of the Beltway, as opposed to a local reporter with local knowledge and lots of credible sources in local medical, political, and business circles.
Nine paragraphs in the story (out of twenty-six total) either present the words or the ideas of Joe Antos, who works at the right wing American Enterprise Institute in the District of Columbia. No countervailing progressive perspective is provided in the article, and no other “expert opinion” is cited besides that of Antos. He’s the only person quoted in the story who isn’t an elected official.
The article has a pox on both their houses theme, with Young making reference to “a new round of partisan finger pointing” and quoting Antos as saying “blame should be shared by all sides”. Another fine example of false equivalency.
But of the nine paragraphs dedicated to Antos’ perspective, this one is my favorite:
“I’m not arguing against social welfare,” Antos said. “The challenge Obama didn’t take up and Republicans in Congress are having problems with is how to make this operate more like business than a forced charitable operation.”
What nonsense! The last thing any American should want is for our healthcare system to be operated “more like [a] business” than it is today.
When people are sick or injured, they need to be able to focus on getting well. It’s hard to feel better when the specter of medical bills is looming over you.
The whole point of the Patient Protection Act was to protect Americans from the worst excesses of the greedy, mostly for-profit insurance industry — like denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The PPA was a step towards a more humane future, in which care is simply available as opposed to affordable.
Healthcare is a human right — it is not a privilege that people should have to pay for. Healthcare therefore must and should be funded as a public service.
Unfortunately, this perspective is entirely missing from Young’s article.
If this had been written for the opinion pages, or for inclusion in the metro section as a column, the decision to rely heavily on Antos wouldn’t be so troubling.
Opinion pieces are subjective by their nature, after all — we ourselves run mostly subjective posts here on the Cascadia Advocate.
But this piece is supposed to be objective reporting. So it should offer many perspectives. It should be nuanced and contemplative. It’s not.
The Seattle Times’ newsroom is capable of putting out higher quality reporting than this. Here’s hoping their next article on this subject is more reasonable.