Ezra Klein slaps down Dylan Ratigan: "For the vast majority, insurance gets LESS expensive"

Just about two hours ago, MSNBC had something of beauty.  Dylan Ratigan, who, I have noted before is more interested in screaming and riling up populist anger than in honest policy debates, got slapped silly by one of the best domestic and economic policy analysts in the country - none other than the Washington Post's Ezra Klein.

Dylan Ratigan usually gets away with his bullcrap with his other guests, but not so with Ezra Klein.  The last bit was the best, most entertaining, and most illuminating:
DR: To make it real simple, the vast majority of people, health insurance gets more expensive, not less expensive.

EK: No, it's the opposite.  For the vast majority of people it gets less expensive and not more expensive.
A bit befuddled Ratigan tries to rescue himself from the bind:
DR: That includes everybody on the employer based system?

EK: Employer based system, yes.  That's the vast majority of people and that goes down a bit.  That gets a bit cheaper, and in the individual market, cheaper for most people.  As you say for a couple of people, they're going to have to buy better insurance than they have now, and though that insurance is a bit cheaper than it would be without reform, it's more than what they are paying for what they get now.
That's one hell of a you-know-what-kind-of-slap if I've ever seen one on a cable news channel.  Ezra Klein has a depth and breath of knowledge that comes from delving into the details of policy, that the likes of Ratigan simply lack.  Here, watch the whole interview:



Ezra Klein sets him straight from the beginning.  First, Ratigan starts by whining about how not everybody has access to the exchange.  Ezra Klein reminds him that actually, beginning towards the end of the first decade, all employers - small and large - will be able to participate in the exchanges, while at the beginning only individuals and small businesses will have access to it.

Ezra also zeros in on a couple of tough decisions Democrats had to make to make the reconciliation package save money:
  • After being delayed by 5 years and the threshold raised a good deal, the excise tax on the insurance companies for high-priced insurance plans will be indexed to inflation instead of inflation plus one percent in the second 10 years.
  • Subsidies will grow more slowly in the second decade as well [unless spending on this bill is more than 10% below CBO estimates.]
I personally would contend that both of those are reasonable changes, given that the goal of health reform is not to simply spend more and more money but to rein in the cost of health care so that neither the government nor the private sector would have to shell out as big a portion of the national income on those.

Anyway, back to Ezra.  After showing a clip of the President saying that in the individual market, for comparable coverage premiums would drop by 14-20% (this is of course true), Dylan cites Politifact saying that employer based coverage would have small savings, and that those who buy insurance in the individual market and won't get any subsidies will see their premiums rise by 10-13%.  Ezra Klein didn't miss a beat - he pointed out that first, the President specifically mentioned the individual market when he talked about the 14-20% saving, and secondly, for a comparable plan the costs do go down. The numbers Ratigan is quoting is from the idea that those people would get better coverage than they are getting now, and have to pay a bit more for it - but again, that is only if one isn't eligible for subsidies (above 400% of FPL) and currently have a plan that do not meet the minimum coverage requirements and don't have employer coverage, and once again the same insurance policy does get cheaper.  In other words, Dylan Ratigan was comparing apples to oranges.

After that, the beautiful smackdown I mentioned at the beginning of this post commences.  Just fantastic!

Well, at least, Dylan Ratigan and I agree on something - Ezra Klein is one of the best - if not the best policy analyst and reporter helping Americans understand this health care bill and its process.