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Remember all those Obamacare horror stories

Statisticians dismiss the practice of using personal stories to argue about an objective reality as “anecdata”, but it might be more accurate to call the “Obamacare horror stories” that have taken over social media “urban legends”.

Doctor of Thinkology
Doctor of Thinkology

Shocking! Shocking, I say…

Statisticians dismiss the practice of using personal stories to argue about an objective reality as “anecdata”, but it might be more accurate to call the “Obamacare horror stories” that have taken over social media “urban legends”. There are urban legends about a lot of things – from spiders in hairdos to red velvet cake. Some are funny, some feature a satisfying come-uppance, but folklorists agree that the stickiest of them, the ones that last for generations and resist debunking are the ones that live off ignorance and feed off fear. As one researcher put it: It’s a lack of information coupled with these fears that tends to give rise to new legends. When demand exceeds supply, people will fill in the gaps with their own information … they’ll just make it up.

I can’t think of a better description of the conservative media ecosystem at the moment.

The failure of the exchanges created an information vacuum as far as Obamacare successes went; in rushed the individual stories of those who claimed to have been hurt by the changes to the market. It didn’t matter that these stories are, even without enrollment numbers from the exchanges, demonstrably unrepresentative! Only a fraction of Americans, 5%, even have the kind of policies that could have been cancelled – these were the people who could claim to have been “lied to”… or worse. Their stories became part of an Obamacare horror story canon.

(click here to continue reading Remember all those Obamacare horror stories? Not looking so bad now | Ana Marie Cox | Comment is free | theguardian.com.)

 Turns out in nearly every case, the reported facts were erroneous, or there were significant details left out. I’m sure you are as surprised as I am that there is gambling in this casino…1

and the really scary part of this story is how quickly these fake stories spread, even on the so-called corporate media. For instance, CBS, Yahoo, and Mediate all reported on Ashley Dionne’s complaint without fact-checking it.

There is the one about Ashley Dionne, who claimed that Obamacare “raped” her generation:

I have asthma, ulcers, and mild cerebral palsy. Obamacare takes my monthly rate from $75 a month for full coverage on my “Young Adult Plan” to $319 a month. After $6,000 in deductibles, of course.

It turned out that her own Tumblr post contained evidence that she would be eligible for a low-cost, “silver” plan for $22.17 per month, with out-of-pocket spending capped at $2,250. (Also, with her medical conditions, it’s hard to believe that she ever found a company to cover her pre-ACA.)

Footnotes:
  1. or however that cliché goes []

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