November 23, 2013

Not News: Jessica Sanford ‘Screwed’ by Washington State’s Obamacare Exchange

Anyone out there who still doesn’t believe or won’t admit that the establishment press is hopelessly biased in favor of the left, particularly the Obama administration, needs to have the establishment press’s virtual failure to cover the Jessica Sanford story rubbed in their faces.

Ms. Sanford is the unfortunate victim of deception by Washington state’s Obamacare exchange. When it was thought that she would get a significant Obamacare subsidy and a net monthly premium of $169, President Obama touted her story based on a letter she wrote to him in a Rose Garden speech. Ms. Sanford has since learned that the state exchange seriously erred, and that she will get no subsidy at all. Because she can’t afford to pay the monthly premium, which now appears to be in the neighborhood of $600 a month (her original premium was said to be $169, and her original subsidy was reported as $452), she will go without health insurance coverage next year and pay the Affordable Care Act’s mandated fine.

The story has three key elements.

The most obvious is the state exchange’s failure to properly process her declared income. Washington State Wire claims that “The state had been submitting monthly income information to the federal data hub, but the federal computers were expecting an annual figure.” The federal hub processed her annual income at one-twelfth of what it should have used (why this didn’t move large numbers of people, including Ms. Sanford, to Medicaid is unclear).

The idea that this is a state-only story is absurd because of Obama’s use of Sanford’s erroneously determined situation as a shining example of Obamacare’s wonders.

The second story element — an important one that even those on the center-right are mostly failing to acknowledge — is how steep the subsidy losses are as income increases. The subsidy calculation in most income ranges removes $95 in subsidies for each additional $1,000 in income — in effect, a 9.5% income tax, on top of the federal income tax, the Social Security/Medicare payroll tax, and any state or local income taxes. The over $5,400 extra she would have to pay if she chose to be insured ($452 times 12) is a huge chunk of whatever Ms. Sanford has been taking home on her reported income of $49,000 per year. No wonder she is going without. Untold thousands of Americans are in the same boat. Many of them will also choose to go without. Wasn’t the Affordable Care Act supposed to be about increasing the number of Americans covered?

The final element is the amazing fact that Ms. Sanford still supports the Affordable Care Act, which I would hope means that no one has bothered to explain the perverse, work-disincentivizing nature of Element 2 as just described. That said, she at least acknowledges that the exchanges aren’t working, telling Washigton State Wire that “they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.” I would take that to mean that she would at least support putting the individual mandate on hold for a year for that purpose, but her statement may also indicate that she believes that subsidies should be expanded to higher income levels.

This is a nationally significant story, but the establishment press has hardly touched it in the four days since it broke.

A search at the Associated Press’s national site on Ms. Sanford’s full name (not in quotes) comes up empty. The New York Times also has nothing. A Google News search on Ms. Sanford’s full name (in quotes) returns 42 items. The only result from an establishment press outlet is a story at the predictable burial ground known as the Politico, where Lucy McCalmont made sure we know that Ms. Sanford still supports the law:

… Jessica Sanford, a Washington state resident and self-employed court reporter, has received numerous letters from her state’s exchange program notifying her of increased costs to her plan and tax credit miscalculations, according to CNN.


“Wow. You guys really screwed me over,” Sanford wrote on a Facebook post about the Washington state exchange website. “Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance. I am so incredibly disappointed and saddened. You majorly screwed up.”

Sanford, who said the experience has been “like riding a big roller coaster,” also said she felt “embarrassed.”

… However, Sanford said she blames the state for her problems, not the White House, adding that she still supports the law.

She can’t afford to pay the premiums the law requires, but she still supports it. Go figure.

To those who say, “Well, CNN covered it,” I say, “Great. That means maybe 400,000 people, or 0.2% of the nation’s population, saw it — and how many of them only had it on in the background, and weren’t paying attention?”

A screwup this severe of something a Republican or conservative president previously praised would be all over the news for days, regardless of how well or poorly the victim might be handling it.

Cross-posted at



  1. Screwed Again… Obamacare Leaves Youth Voters Without Subsidies to Pay for Insurance

    One of the basic tenets of Obamacare is that the government will help lower-income Americans — anyone making less than about $45,900 a year — pay for the health insurance everyone is now mandated to have.

    But a CNN analysis shows that in the largest city in nearly every state, many low-income younger Americans won’t get any subsidy at all. Administration officials said the reason so many Americans won’t receive a subsidy is that the cost of insurance is lower than the government initially expected. Subsidies are calculated using a complicated formula based on the cost of insurance premiums, which can vary drastically from state to state, and even county to county.

    That doesn’t change the fact that in Chicago, a 27-year old will receive no subsidy to help offset premiums of more than $165 a month if he makes more than $27,400 a year.

    In Portland, Oregon, subsidies for individuals making just $28,725 a year phase out for those younger than 35 years old.

    What’s complicated about age discrimination? So all the younger people under 35 years old basically don’t get any subsidy. All this to pay for someone 36 to 64?

    So how did liberals believe they could force younger people to overpay for an insurance policy? Did they really believe they had the exclusive right to think for the young and simply tell them what to do and they would do it? Or were they going to rely on their old standby when they couldn’t win an argument? Racist?

    Comment by dscott — November 24, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  2. Obamacare critics fearful of the federal government controlling one-sixth of the nation’s economy and the resulting loss of freedom have missed both the most serious threat to freedom and its likeliest victims. Obamacare stands to turn millions of our neighbors into criminals. That’s because seeking a subsidy in order to obey the mandate of — never mind afford — the Affordable Care Act (“ACA,” but referred universally as Obamacare)1 can easily put our most economically and educationally vulnerable fellow citizens on a path to jail. If this be compassion, it is true only in the same sense that euthanasia fulfills the definition.

    Comment by Ziad Abdelnour — November 25, 2013 @ 3:04 am

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