Fox's Martha MacCallum hosted a guest to attack the Affordable Care Act who ended up supporting the changes the ACA has made to substandard insurance plans.
On the November 18 edition of America's Newsroom, MacCallum interviewed former health care executive Stan Hupfeld in a segment that described him as a top insurance industry official "warning against the Obamacare fix." However, in the interview that followed, Hupfeld recommended switching to ACA-compliant policies and underlined the reasons behind the cancellations of old, inadequate plans:
HUPFELD: Well the insurance companies, obviously, somewhere in the debate became supporters because they saw the opportunity for millions more uninsured to come their way. Part of the problem it seems to me, and certainly consistent with your last guest, was that many people with their old plans, with these very high deductibles, didn't really realize until they came to the point of having to use the plans, some of the inadequacies. You know, when you have a family of four each with a $5,000 deductible, for the average patient that shows up at the hospital, they're essentially uninsured because they can't, in most cases, meet those deductibles.
MACCALLUM: What would you recommend to people? If you got the cancellation notice and you were booted off your policy and you're still looking around trying to figure it out, would you say yes, I recommend you go back and continue that plan, or try your luck with some of these new things that the president claims will actually be cheaper in the end?
HUPFELD: Well obviously it depends on whether your circumstances, whether you're sicker and older or younger and healthier. I think for the most part, you'd be better off in trying to make the change now, to the new plan.
In the interview, Hupfeld made a point that Fox is loath to admit: many of the canceled plans hyped by Fox offer an inadequate level of coverage, which is often as risky as having no insurance at all. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the underinsured are more likely to go without care and experience levels of medical-related financial stress that are comparable to those of the uninsured:
Access to Care
Relative to those with more adequate insurance, the underinsured were significantly more likely to go without care because of costs. In fact, they reported rates of cost-related, forgone care close to those of the uninsured.
More than one-half of the underinsured (54%) and uninsured (59%) went without needed care during the year: they failed to fill a prescription, skipped a test or follow-up, failed to visit a doctor for a medical problem, and/or did not get specialist care.
Levels of financial stress among the underinsured rivaled levels among the uninsured and were four times the rates observed among the more adequately insured. Nearly one-half (46%) of the underinsured were contacted by a collection agency for medical bills and more than one-third (35%) said they had to change their way of life to pay medical bills.
In arguing that most individuals would be better off entering the exchanges now rather than returning to cancelled plans, Hupfeld highlighted another fact that Fox has worked hard to conceal: most individuals with inadequate coverage would benefit from switching to ACA-compliant policies. According to New Republic Senior Editor and health care reporter Jonathan Cohn, the experts he trusts most "say the majority of people will probably end up paying less than they do now, as long as you account for subsidies, Medicaid, and the ability of young adults to enroll in special catastrophic plans or stay on their parents' policies."
Fox's past attempt to elevate alleged victims of the health care law on Hannity disintegrated when a former adviser to Montana's governor fact-checked the special and found that not one of the show's guests even visited the insurance exchange. When he shopped on the exchange with the information he was given for two of the three couples Hannity hosted, he found that both families could save thousands annually by enrolling in an ACA-compliant policy.
Hupfeld has previously appeared on a Hannity special, after which he wrote an article criticizing cable news for emphasizing "the worst of our collective paranoia" and shaping "a nation focused on our own political inclinations, unwilling to compromise to solve even our most intractable problems." Perhaps Fox would have rethought their choice of guest had they realized his support for bipartisan compromise.