Meet the new Soccer Mom: Obamacare losers.
Millions of married, older, white, college-educated, GOP-leaning Americans have quickly seen their political profile rise after their health insurance companies sent them cancellation letters with the launch of the giant new health care law.
It’s not a huge segment of the population — estimates show between 10 million to 19 million people bought health insurance from what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dubbed the “Wild West” individual marketplace.
But the ones who are making the most anti-Obamacare noise are part of this group (think of the self-employed, small business owners, freelance writers, musicians and taxi cab drivers) that share one politically pertinent common denominator. Their complaints — amplified in recent weeks by Republicans and reporters — demonstrate one of the first tangible stumbles of the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s not theoretical anymore,” said Virginia-based health industry consultant Robert Laszewski. “You can spin in the White House press room, but these are people who will be sitting down with their friends and families at Thanksgiving sharing stories about their cancellation letters. That’s going to be the only thing that counts.”
There are three reasons why the horror stories are a big problem for Democrats.
- First, as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has taught, losses loom larger than gains. Some people surely are benefiting from the law, but the downsides will get more attention and draw a louder reaction than the upsides.
- Second, the losses are concentrated, not diffuse. They involve specific people -- and the cancellation letters make them highly tangible. As Kahneman says, "The explanatory stories that people find compelling are simple; are concrete rather than abstract."
- Third, the losers are relatively affluent people who are likely to vote. The gainers -- especially people getting Medicaid benefits -- are less affluent and are less likely to vote. From the Census report on turnout in 2012, Reported Voting and Registration of Family Members, by Age and Family Income: November 2012
|$10,000 to $14,999||45.8|
|$15,000 to $19,999||50.4|
|$20,000 to $29,999||55.8|
|$30,000 to $39,999||58.4|
|$40,000 to $49,999||63.0|
|$50,000 to $74,999||68.0|
|$75,000 to $99,999||73.8|
|$100,000 to $149,999||76.9|
|$150,000 and over||80.2|
|Income not reported||50.4|