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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Nov. 22-Nov. 29

This week, readers sent us comments about health care premiums, earmarks and other people’s letters.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Health Care Anecdata

I don’t know about your assessment of health care premiums ["The Truth About Health Insurance Premiums," Nov. 19]. I read the article quickly, but you say that Obamacare didn’t have much to do with the rising premiums a lot of us have experienced. I buy my own insurance and my deductible is $7,500. My premium just rose from $750 to $1,032 a quarter! Strange coincidence, they pass the health care bill and my premiums skyrocket. You expect me to believe that that is just a "coincidence"? Why did "costs of health care" or whatever you called it suddenly take a leap right at the same time as Obama care passed? I’m not sure your conclusions pass the "sniff" test.

Are you REALLY non-partisan?

Marilyn Bernal
Vale, Ore.

You’re wrong. My premiums are going up 33 percent on January 1 AND that takes into account that Aetna dropped our 20, 22, and 24 year old children from the policy.

I’m in Pennsylvania and I’ve turned this information over to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner.

Diane Miller
Downingtown, Pa.

I live in Idaho, am self-employed, and provide my own health insurance. Prior to August 1 my premium was $460 per month, with a $7,500 deductible. Had I remained with the same policy, my premium would have jumped to $600 per month, a 30 percent increase. I modified my policy, increasing my deductible to $10,000. The premium went to $499 per month. I have experience these types of increases annually since approximately 1995, when my original premium was $80 per month. All this was with Regence Blue Shield of Idaho. When I see health insurance companies building enormous monstrosities, in which to house their hordes of employees, don’t tell me that they won’t use any gimmick to raise our premiums.

As of November 1 I now receive Medicare benefits. Can’t wait to see how Obamacare will affect my costs down the road.

Skip Davis
Weiser, Idaho

Why are you guys such apologists for the Obama administration?

It should be pretty easy to figure out the portion of any increase that is attributable to the law. First, add up the cost of compliance associated with the health care law. Difficult, yes, but should not be impossible. Then add all the new taxes all the way along the chain of health services/medications/equipment/implants. Take that total amount. It’s the new cost of health care in this country. It will be spread out throughout the system.

It has to be “whopping.” It’s going to cost a fortune if only because some 35 million more people will be in the system and somebody will have to pay for them. This is insane and will bankrupt our country because, in the end, we will end up with fewer services to contain cost or nobody will be able to afford health insurance, let along health care — which are different.

Marc E. Thomas
Bingham Farms, Mich.

FactCheck.org responds: For the article, we talked to several economists and policy analysts who follow procedures similar to what Mr. Thomas describes. As we said, they attribute most of the increase to the rising cost of health care. No strange coincidence is needed; those same rising costs were cited as one of the reasons for the new legislation.

Saying that premiums must have gone up because the law was passed based on the fact that they went up after the law was passed is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The conclusion is not justified — and in fact, as Mr. Davis points out, premiums have been increasing regularly since long before the new legislation.


Earmarks vs. Appropriations

I think the battle over "earmarks" is a bit strange. I think most people would agree that one of the duties of Congress is to provide projects or services for their constituents, be it highway construction, airports, or things like support for schools. The problem for me is when these "appropriations" become "earmarks" because they are slipped into some non-related bill, and don’t get debated. Getting rid of earmarks shouldn’t mean getting rid of projects or services. It should mean that these things should be debated and stand or fail on their merits.

Donald Haff
Bothell, Wa.


Mailbag Melee

On Nov. 16 you posted an ugly letter from Channler Drawdy, of Santa Barbara, Calif., about how he wouldn’t trust Snopes or Media Matters ["FactCheck Mailbag," Week of Nov. 9-Nov. 15]. I compliment you on your restraint in not even trying to reply to his declarations. I do appreciate both Media Matters and Snopes. Keep up the good work.

M. Hooper
Asheville, N.C.