The lies of Obamacare: Census Bureau edition

High among the list of Obamacare’s most embarrassing failures is the fact that it will not meet its stated purpose of reducing to a low level the number of Americans who lack health insurance. This goal was the justification for the massive disruption of the health care system that Obamacare has imposed. The millions and millions of Americans who will lose their health insurance plan and/or their doctors, and/or will see their premiums sky-rocket suffer these consequences in the name of making sure that few Americans lack coverage.

But Obamacare will not deliver on this promise. Accordingly, as The New York Times informs us, the Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the impact of Obamacare on the number of uninsured.

The Census Bureau describes the changes to its survey as a “total revision to health insurance questions.” And it concedes that, given the revision, it will be difficult to say how much of any change in the number of uninsured is attributable to Obamacare and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.

In short, unable to deliver on its central Obamacare promise, the administration now tries to muddy the waters so its critics can’t quantify the underperformance.

Now for the big question: Will the “new survey instrument” cause the number of uninsured to be reported as higher or lower than it would have been reported under the old method? If you said the new instrument will cause the Census Bureau to find a lower number of uninsured than would have been found under the old metric, you win (but you still may be unable to keep your insurance plan). “We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” said Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.

Naturally, the Census Bureau claims that the changes in the survey are intended to improve its accuracy. But the Obama administration never questioned the accuracy of the survey when it used Census Bureau numbers to make the case that America desperately needed Obamacare.

Obamacare, then, appears to be based on false claims about the number of uninsured in America. If not, then it will be defended in the future based on false claims about the same issue.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle has more on the change to the Census Bureau survey.

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