AP Fails to Connect Poll Finding to Obamacare: 11% With Employer Coverage Say It Will Be 'Discontinued' In 2014

December 16th, 2013 1:26 PM

An Associated Press-GfK poll has found that 11 percent of an admittedly small sample of Americans insured through their employer or a family member's employer are losing their coverage in 2014. The related AP report relays that point and even has a graphic supporting it.

But reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta failed to make the drop-dead obvious connection. According President Barack Obama and his White House spinmeisters, nothing is changing as a result of Obamacare if you're employed, and Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" only applies to those in the private individual insurance market. Tell that to the 11 percent.

Here's how AP-GfK got to its result.

Of 1,367 Americans it polled, 82 percent said (1,172) that they had some form of health insurance coverage (16% didn't, and 2% wouldn't answer). 60 percent of those with coverage said they have coverage through their employer or a family member's employer.

Of that 60 percent (approximately 700; AP-GfK didn't cite a specific number), 389 (a number the pollsters did specify) said that they have been notified of health insurance policy changes taking effect in 2014.

That group of the 389 reported the following changes:


The 11 percent reporting that their plan will be discontinued in 2014 represents only 43 respondents, but that's 43 more than the White House, President Obama, and Kathleen Sebelius have been willing to acknowledge.

Obviously, projecting from such a small number is perilous. So to be conservative, let's assume that "only" 5 percent have seen their plans discontinued. That would amount to roughly 7.8 million of those currently having employer-based coverage (5% x 156 million with such coverage) — a number which may be equal to if not greater than the number of those who have seen their private individual plans cancelled. Of course, the real percentage, given the vagaries of sampling, may be higher. If it's really 15 percent, that would be over 23 million Americans who have already seen their employer coverage discontinued.

While they did not elaborate on the significance of this finding, Alonso-Zaldivar and Agiesta did try to deflect blame from Obamacare and turn it into a political matter in the following paragraphs:

Employers trying to control their health insurance bills have been shifting costs to workers for years, but now those changes are blamed increasingly on "Obamacare" instead of the economy or insurance companies.

Political leanings seemed to affect perceptions of eroding coverage, with larger majorities of Republicans and independents saying their coverage will be affected.

Nice try, guys, but no sale. "Eroding coverage" should have nothing to do with perception, and everything to do with real provisions of real plans. The poll didn't publish results on employer plan changes by party affiliation or political philosophy. But note that, as written, the AP pair have admitted that "majorities" (i.e. 51 percent or more) in all party affiliations (Democrat, Republican, independent) and major philosophies (liberal, conservative, moderate) are blaming Obamacare. The higher Republican and conservative majorities may simply be due to abject denial on the part of some affected Democrats and liberals. As to the overall trend on which AP tried to lean, we haven't seen employers terminate coverage for anywhere near the number of plan participants in any single year as we are tentatively seeing so far — emphasis "so far" — for 2014.

So the AP-GfK poll, despite their reporters' ignorant or deliberate failure to make the connection, is an early confirmation that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" is already more than likely not true for a far from insignificant number of Americans who once had coverage through employer-sponsored plans. And it's only going to get worse.

Please don't try to tell me that the AP journalists involved wouldn't be making this connection if a Republican or conservative were in the White House.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.