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CNN Guy Bravely Sticks Up For Insurance Company Lovers Who Are Feeling Personally Attacked By Warren And Sanders

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I shouldn't have clicked.

Here I was, looking around for something PERKY for the open thread (which is difficult for me because I don't really have a good understanding of what perky is), when I came upon the following CNN headline:

Warren and Sanders say Americans don't like their health insurance. Polls don't back that up.

And I knew! I knew it was going to be stupid, I knew it was going to be terrible, I knew it was going to make me want to put my fist through a wall, but I clicked anyway and it was worse than I had even imagined. So I am going to yell about it, if that is OK with all of you!


CNN journalist Harry Enten points to a few polls about what people want and what they like, re: health care, and then proceeds to use that to explain that actually, people LOVE their private insurance and would prefer a slightly better Obamacare with a public option (maybe) to Medicare For All.

Poll of the week: A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that when it comes to expanding coverage and lowering health care costs 55% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents prefer to vote for a candidate who does so by building on the Affordable Care Act. Only 40% want do so by voting for voting for a candidate who replaces the ACA with Medicare for All.This poll is consistent with previous Kaiser polls on the subject in finding Democrats wanting to vote for someone who builds on the ACA.What's the point: Another Democratic presidential debate was defined by whether it's best to improve health care coverage through Medicare for All with minimal private insurance or having private insurance with a government run health care option. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued the former, while some others, most prominently former Vice President Joe Biden, argued the latter.

Polls like the one I just cited indicate that the candidates who favor a public option hold the majority opinion within the Democratic Party.

There isn't much point to a half-assed solution unless that point is for it to suck just enough so that people who don't want single-payer can go "See how TERRIBLE this is? Single payer would be even worse!" I'm sorry, but it's true. The fact is, a public option or whatever will not be as good as Medicare For All, for a variety of reasons. The first reason, quite frankly, is that if it's only for poor people, there will be very little impetus to actually make it good. If rich people also have to use it, if middle class people also have to use it, they will put pressure on politicians to make sure it doesn't suck. Poor people don't have that kind of leverage! It's the same reason why the voucher system make public schools worse.

Another big reason is that a whole big part of why Medicare for All saves money has to do with billing. The administrative costs of sending bills to 25,000 different insurers account for a major part of healthcare expenditures. Expenditures that would not be necessary if all the bills automatically went to one place.

Let me just restate this to be extra clear: You pay more for a thing that you buy than you should, because someone has to be paid to argue with the people you are paying that they should give you the thing you paid for. That's like going to the supermarket, getting some milk, paying for the milk, and then paying an extra dollar for the milk so that the supermarket will let you take the milk home. Dig?

But let's go on!

The polling shouldn't be too surprising when you look at how Democrats feel out their own health insurance: they like it.

According to Gallup polling from late last year, 82% of Democrats said the quality of health care they received was either good or excellent. A large majority, 71%, believed their health care coverage was either good or excellent. Even when it comes to health care costs, 61% of Democrats said were satisfied with what they paid in health care.

On Thursday, Warren argued that, despite these numbers, she has "actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company."It turns out that Kaiser posed this question to Americans back in 2013 "Do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of your own health insurance company?"

In that poll, 72% of Democrats they had a favorable view of their health insurance company. That's triple the 24% who said they had an unfavorable view.

People don't love having private insurance. They love having health care. As with anything else, they are aware of when they have good health insurance or bad health insurance, and would prefer the kind of insurance that is less bad. That doesn't mean that insurance companies don't suck. Because they do.

The entire point of an insurance company is to collect money from you and then, when you have some kind of medical procedure, to say "No, we won't cover that." "No" is the default. "No" is automatic. In order to get them to cover it, someone at the hospital needs to bargain and negotiate with your insurance company, which costs money. Is that a good system? Really? It's better than everything just being covered with no middleman?

Now, I will not argue the fact that there are some people who do love that kind of thing. I worked in a boutique, so I am well aware of the fact that there are a whole lot of people who like spending a whole lot more than is necessary on something just because they can and someone else can't; who are more than happy to spend $200 on a purse we got in Koreatown for $10, but would never deign to go to Marshall's and get a much better bag for far less than that. That is just how some people are.

I will contend, however, that this is a very stupid way to be and that we should not really build our national healthcare policy around those instincts. Given the option, it is always less stupid to get things at cost or in bulk pricing than it is to pay retail. That is why people go to Costco. Single payer is Costco, private health insurance is a stupid boutique where they charge you $200 for a plastic $10 purse that I, a shopgirl working on commission, would tell you is "vegan leather."

I actually do have a solution to this whole problem for people like Harry Enten, who apparently just really, really love giving a lot of money to health insurance companies for basically no reason. Hear me out! Instead of diabetics going on GoFundMe in order to get insulin so they don't die, the soon-to-be-former CEOs of health insurance companies can go on their instead. And Harry Enten can funnel as much money to them as he likes! It's a win-win, really.

He goes on:

This polling is probably the reason that most of the Democrats on the Thursday debate stage don't want to mostly eliminate private insurance companies. It might also explain why Biden continues to lead the Democratic race. He's closer to the median voter on the marquee issue this primary season than either his two leading competitors Sanders or Warren.

If Sanders or Warren win the nomination, it will be in spite of their health care positions, not because of them.

Really? I mean, I suppose it's possible with Warren, but Bernie Sanders' whole thing is health care. What possible demographic would exist that would go "You know, I really like Bernie Sanders, except for his position on health care?"

I'm gonna say something really mean here, so prepare yourselves: If you combine the poll numbers of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they are beating the living hell out of not only Joe Biden, but of everyone else there. Combined.

It's just math! And the thing is, they're doing that well in spite of the fact that "the serious people" of the pundit class said no to both of them, initially (they're getting more OK with Warren these days). This is actually a big deal! Hell, when "the serious people" said that Howard Dean had to go because he yelled weird one time (but let's be real, it was because he opposed the Iraq War), everyone immediately went along with them.

I am not going to lie, I kind of love it. I absolutely love it when people don't go along and do what they're told. It's a thing I have.

Anyway, the odds are that a lot of the people who are saying they will vote for Joe Biden are not saying that because they are so over-the-moon about what a fabulous candidate he is, but because they have been told, over and over again, that "he's the ONLY one who can beat Trump!" and they're just going along with that.

But I digress. Let's let Enten continue his paean to the gloriousness of private health insurance:

Moreover, 58% of all Americans told Gallup last year they were satisfied with their health care costs and clear majorities answered good or excellent on the quality of their health care (80%) and coverage (69%). And similarly to Democrats, 74% of all Americans told Kaiser in 2013 that they had a favorable view of their own health insurance company.

Perhaps the best hope for Sanders and Warren is to not make health care personal. Americans may like their own insurance and their own insurance company, but just 20% are satisfied with the total cost of health care in America. A minority (43%) have a favorable view of health insurance companies at large.

But when you propose eliminating private insurance, it's pretty hard not to make it personal to the many voters who rely on it.

And that last sentence there, my friends, is where I lost my shit. "HARD NOT TO MAKE IT PERSONAL." What does that even mean? Does he think that people feel like, personally attacked by Elizabeth Warren denying their love for their insurance companies? Who are these people and my god, can we get them some help?

Also... and I just need to say this. The whole point of Medicare For All is that it covers everything. Why would anyone want to "rely" on an insurance company (whose job, again, is to tell you NO) if everything is covered? What is it that they would get out of that? WHAT SENSE COULD THAT POSSIBLY MAKE?

OK, I am done blowing my gasket here. Please go talk amongst yourselves, as this is now your open thread!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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