Sunday, December 20, 2015

PolitiFact, Paul Ryan and cherry-picking

Does this add up?

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during a television appearance that Obamacare was making families pay double-digit premium increases.

PolitiFact gave Ryan's statement its "fact check" treatment, which we're inclined to call liberal blogging.

Step 1:
Ryan is suggesting ... increases in the "double digits." We decided to rate that claim on the Truth-O-Meter.
Step 2:
According to HHS data, 19 out of the 37 states in the federal exchange saw an average rate increase in the double digits. At the low end, rates in Missouri increased by 10.4 percent while Oklahoma saw the biggest hike at 35.7 percent.
Step 3:
Ryan has a point that some plans have seen increases of 10 percent or more with insurance purchased on healthcare.gov. However, Ryan is cherry-picking the high end of rate changes.
Got it? PolitiFact says Oklahoma is experiencing an average Obamacare exchange rate hike of 35.7 percent. And saying "double-digit" rate increases is cherry-picking from the high end of rate changes.

Given that a 10 percent rate hike is "double digits" and the top (average) exchange rate hike is over 35 percent, what kind of sense does it make to say Ryan is cherry-picking the high end of rate changes?

Silly liberal bloggers.

Ryan used a normal ambiguity when he spoke. "Families" does not mean "All families" as PolitiFact claimed Ryan was suggesting. If a substantial number of families are getting hit with double-digit rate increases then what Ryan said was accurate. And by "accurate" I don't mean "True" in the sense of a "Truth-O-Meter" rating. I mean "accurate" in the sense that PolitiFact uses the term when it defines "True" and "Mostly True" for purposes of its cheesy "Truth-O-Meter":

 PolitiFact's definitions are themselves "Half True." You can tell that's the case when Ryan's accurate statement receives its "Half True" rating while Bernie Sanders' inaccurate statement receives a "Mostly True" rating.

PolitiFact fact-checking is a game liberal bloggers play.


Afters

Other than Ryan's office providing supporting URLs dealing with the individual market, what would lead PolitiFact to simply ignore the much larger group plan market in its fact check? Do group plans not count? Does the lack of an employer mandate mean Obamacare does not affect group insurance despite the new regulations it imposes on the group market?

Rate increases? What rate increases?
And according to an Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. survey of smaller employers, most of which have less than 1,000 employees, released Friday, 44% reported premium rate hikes of 6% or more in 2014. Twenty-three percent saw rates in the double digits, the survey showed.
We'll say it again: Silly liberal bloggers.

After Afters

Before I forget the caboose on this PolitiFact trainwreck ...
Ryan missteps by saying the law alone is "making" the premiums increase. Rather, experts say, hikes are more likely the result of insurers underestimating how sick enrollees would be.
Silly cherry-picking liberal bloggers. Obamacare is the reason insurers don't know how sick their enrollees will be. Guaranteed issue. Remember? No, I guess you don't remember.


Correction Dec. 20, 2015: Changed from "Ind." to "Wis." the state which Ryan represents. Hat tip to commenter Pagan Raccoon for pointing out the error.
Correction Dec. 21, 2015: When repeating PolitiFact's 35.7 figure we typo-inflated it to 37.7. That's now fixed. Hat tip to "John Smith" for using the comments section to point out the error.

7 comments:

  1. Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin, not Indiana. I would know because I live in Indiana.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're correct, of course, and as often as I've written about Ryan (and PolitiFact Wisconsin) I should have remembered that as I was writing. Thanks for pointing out our error. We'll have it corrected in a jiffy.

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  2. "Silly liberal bloggers."
    "PolitiFact fact-checking is a game liberal bloggers play"
    "We'll say it again: Silly liberal bloggers."
    "Silly cherry-picking liberal bloggers."
    "this PolitiFact trainwreck"

    imho, that sounds too polarizing.

    btw, should it not be 35.7 instead of 37.7 in the paragraph after "step 3:"?

    anyway, there is more behind the politifact conclusion.
    for example, this articles "step 3" leaves out the last sentence:
    "On average, the benchmark plan has increased 7.5 percent, which decreases once premium tax credits and enrollment figures are factored in."

    also "In the 30 largest markets, representing about 60 percent of enrollees, the rate increase is 6.3 percent"

    so apparently some families do pay double-digit premium increases, but to some people the original claim implies most do. it seems like this is the core issue this article is about.
    politifact was "good enough" not to rate the statement as false. i agree that politifact should be clearer and consistent with its rules.

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    Replies
    1. John Smith wrote:

      imho, that sounds too polarizing.

      Too bad. That was the main point we were stressing. There's nothing special about PolitiFact unless it's the low quality of its fact-checking.

      btw, should it not be 35.7 instead of 37.7 in the paragraph after "step 3:"?

      Correct, and thanks for catching the error. A fix is forthcoming.

      anyway, there is more behind the politifact conclusion.

      We're not trying to retell the entire fact check. We're highlighting PF's inadequacy. There's no part of the fact check that atones for the inadequacies we pointed out.

      i agree that politifact should be clearer and consistent with its rules.

      Good. I hope you also agree that PF should have considered the group insurance market when embarking on the fact check. And that blaming insurance companies' difficulty in setting rates is bogus given it is an outworking of the ACA's guaranteed issue requirement.

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    2. Rather: "And that blaming insurance companies' difficulty in setting rates on the insurance companies is bogus given it is an outworking of the ACA's guaranteed issue requirement."

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    3. "unless it's the low quality of its fact-checking."

      Says the guy who can't even correctly proofread his own blog. Also, it's clear that the average benchmark plans are seeing an average increase of +7.5% - last I checked, that was a number in the single digits. The fact that you made no mention of this FACT shows the bias contained within your little conservative blog. The irony is quite hilarious.

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    4. DRG wrote (initially quoting me):

      "unless it's the low quality of its fact-checking."

      Says the guy who can't even correctly proofread his own blog.


      Do you know what a "tu quoque" fallacy is? PolitiFact often makes careless editing mistakes. Has that destroyed your trust in PolitiFact?

      We could commit 10x as many mistakes as we do and it would not materially undercut our criticisms of PolitiFact. You're arguing fallaciously.

      "Also, it's clear that the average benchmark plans are seeing an average increase of +7.5% - last I checked, that was a number in the single digits. The fact that you made no mention of this FACT shows the bias contained within your little conservative blog. The irony is quite hilarious.

      Anyone who can read "According to HHS data, 19 out of the 37 states in the federal exchange saw an average rate increase in the double digits" and not figure out that it's quite possible the national average for individual insurance is below double digits needs more help than we can offer.

      You couldn't figure it out?

      Do you think PolitiFact should have ignored group insurance when doing this fact check?

      Delete