As the Denver Post's Electra Draper reports, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado have taken to regularly updating the number of health insurance "cancellations" in Colorado, so as to pronounce each new one a cataclysmic failure of President Barack Obama, Senator Mark Udall, and everybody else all the way down the line–presumably not Republicans who supported Colorado's health insurance exchange, but everybody else:
The Colorado Division of Insurance has reported that there were about 2,100 health-plan cancellations in the state over the past two months, bringing this year's total to more than 6,150.
The division reported the figures for June 15-Aug. 15 to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman last week. Senate Republicans have requested monthly on the numbers…
Since 2013, there have been about 340,000 policy cancelations in Colorado. Many customers received notices last fall as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out.
Policies that did not meet the act's minimum standards were canceled, though customers were offered replacement policies. Other cancellations were the result of business decisions by the insurers as part of normal operations. The insurance division did not track cancelation numbers in the same way before the act.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act cite the cancelations as proof that it is hurting consumers more than helping.
The conservative Daily Caller portrays these new "cancellations" as further proof of Obamacare's utter failure:
More than 2,000 more Coloradans had their health insurance plans cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a letter from the state regulatory agency to state Senate Republicans.
Following a dust-up earlier this year between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the Division of Insurance, Republicans have requested regular updates on policies that are cancelled because they don’t conform to Obamacare or because companies are getting out of the individual insurance market…
State Senate Republicans have requested regular updates from the insurance commission about continuing cancellations. In March, the commission reported 1,755 cancellations and in June another 2,320. Last week’s total was 2,105.
In all, nearly 340,000 Coloradans received cancellation notices, although not all are because they don’t conform to the ACA; some carriers are leaving the individual insurance market altogether.
The "335,000 cancellations" figure is one we've been talking about in this space for many months, mostly in an effort to debunk highly misleading characterizations of the issue. As we've noted repeatedly, over 90% of these "cancellations" were in fact renewal notices for existing policies, as state health insurance officials had determined this was permissible even before President Obama did the same thing for health plans across the nation. We're honestly surprised to still be seeing this talking point at all, after studies showing the rate of uninsured in Colorado has plunged arithmetically disproved it.
But setting aside the "cancellations" that occurred after the rollout of the ACA versus subsequent total numbers of insured, there's a much more basic reason this claim is just getting silly. Even before Obamacare, insurance plans in the individual and small group markets were routinely cancelled and modified by insurance companies. There is nothing to indicate that we are seeing a higher rate of cancellations today, now that the initial changeover due to ACA mandates is past, than before the ACA was implemented. Insurance companies used to cancel plans for all kinds of financial reasons, many of which have been outlawed by the ACA's tight restrictions on the rescission of policies. Consumers in the individual market were well accustomed to this. But for the things that actually matter, like getting sick, cancellations are no longer a threat as they were before the ACA.
Bottom line: there's a reason why attacks on Obamacare like the "cancellations" canard are widely believed to be running out of stream. It's because voters can see for themselves now that the horror stories promised by Republicans once the ACA went into effect have not come to pass. If the millions of Americans the GOP insists "lost their health insurance" actually had, there would be riots in the streets. Instead, we now know that the rate of uninsured both nationally and in Colorado has plummeted since the ACA went into effect. Republicans continue to pump more and more money into ads demonizing Obamacare, but the point of diminishing return has already been hit.
To quote Gertrude Stein, "there is no there there."