Obama: Health insurance isn’t expensive – just cancel cable and phones; Update: White House responds

posted at 10:01 am on March 12, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

This is a few days old, but it’s amusing nonetheless. Barack Obama appeared in a town hall for Spanish-language media on March 6th to discuss ObamaCare and promote enrollments, and got challenged by a viewer on the economics of it for low-income Americans who are now forced to buy comprehensive health insurance. On a $36,000 annual income, the requirement to buy the broad policy rather than something a little more economical — say, hospitalization coverage combined with an HSA, a strategy which is now all but illegal — makes it impossible to comply. Pshaw, Obama replied. Why, all those low-income folks need to do is stop spending money on luxuries like cable television and cell phones!

No, really:


The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

The Libre Initiative points out that premiums have skyrocketed, thanks to the forced changes in ObamaCare, along with the mandate for comprehensive coverage:

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums for millions of Americans. Ehealthinsurance reports that consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented. The high cost of policies is contributing to the continued weak enrollment numbers under the law, which are now showing signs of decreasing with less than 3 weeks left to enroll. When he sought the Presidency, Mr. Obama said his plan would deliver affordable care that people would be “desperate” to purchase.

Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative released the following statement:

“If the President actually believes that a family earning less than $40,000 per year can afford nearly $4,000 in health insurance premiums, then he truly does not understand middle-income families. Americans do not need the President to tell them how to budget their households. People are already cutting back on things like cable television and cell phones, just to compensate for an awful economy.This President promised he would deliver on affordable health care. Instead, premiums are up, out-of-pocket expenses are up, and overall cost of living is up. The President simply doesn’t get it. And his condescending attitude adds insult to injury.”

Let’s take a look at that $300 a month, too. Assuming that we’re talking about a family of four, that would force the family to spend $3,600 a year. While that might be money well spent in the case of catastrophe, it’s a bad investment on several levels otherwise. If both kids break a bone, it might run them $500 each to get treated, or perhaps even a thousand each if they go to an emergency room. If they get the flu, perhaps another $200 each for a doctor visit. Throw in wellness checks for everyone at $250 each, and we’re talking about $3400 in medical care, $200 less than their premiums.

But wait! In most plans of that cost, the family will have to spend thousands of dollars in deductibles first for everything but the wellness checks — so the only benefit will be covering the $1000 those cost. In this example, the family that normally would have spent $3400 out of pocket in that year will now spend $5,800.

That’s why families such as the caller’s used HSAs to spend pre-tax money on routine care and smaller emergencies, and chose so-called catastrophic insurance to deal with serious issues requiring hospitalizations. They could do that and still afford to have a phone and cable TV, at least until Barack Obama assumed he could prioritize their budgets better than they could.

Update: Jesse Lee at the White House responds:

It’s difficult to read with the red background, but Obama discusses other options for lower-income families in this part of the Q&A. He also attacks the states that refused to go along with Medicaid expansion, although at $36K a year that’s probably a non-sequitur. This still doesn’t really address Obama’s own suggestion that $300 a month is a reasonable cost for comprehensive family insurance, nor does it negate his implication that families could choose to live without cable and phone service instead. That may well be a fair argument on basic economics, but it’s a far, far cry from the argument offered over the past five years of affordability in ObamaCare. For many uninsured, they had that option in 2009, too.

Also, for the record, I didn’t notice a “mysterious[]” cut in the middle when I posted this, but I’ll watch more carefully for that in the future.

Update: The Federalist looked at the whole response, including what the White House sent me, and scoffed even more:

“Is the Affordable Care Act really affordable?” the moderator then asked Obama. Obama couldn’t settle on a single answer to the question, so he instead suggested that the man should just sign up for Medicaid, blamed Texas for affordable insurance not being available, and concluded by saying the man should cancel his telephone service if he can’t afford to pay for any of Obamacare’s health insurance options. …

That’s right: it’s not Obamacare’s fault that insurance is now unaffordable. It’s Texas’ fault for not expanding Medicaid. If you like your health plan, you can…just go sign up for Medicaid. Or cancel your phone service. Whatever.

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Welcome to the Lillian Hellman Presidency:

Every word they speak is a lie, including “and” and “the”!

Another Drew on March 12, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Who knew that the Leftist/Socialist solution to avoiding the surveillance of the FBI/NSA/CIA was to have Obamacare force you to drop phone service and cable TV, and then add in their ideas on fossil fuels to drive you off the grid and the internet, entirely, so that you live in the pre-phone, pre-internet, pre-cable tv era?


If you don’t have any electronic connections and live only by what the US MAIL delivers to you, then you will be very hard to get information from. Your life becomes completely private once you move off the grid and decide not to visit any doctors because Obamacare is too expensive for you to actually, you know, USE IT.

There you go!

Instant privacy in the electronic age, Socialist style!

Force everyone to live in the pre-modern era by pricing modernity through the roof.

Absolute genius this President is! A vision for the future that INCLUDES horse and buggy for the poor!

ajacksonian on March 12, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Obama is a laughingstock.

faraway on March 12, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Cable subsidies!!!

faraway on March 12, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Replace your internet with NEWSPAPERS!

Way cheaper!

And check the pressure of the air in your tires!

ajacksonian on March 12, 2014 at 3:17 PM

And maybe switch from fresh arugula to the canned variety!

Instead of kobe beef, just go for filet mignon!

ajacksonian on March 12, 2014 at 3:18 PM

No, don’t cancel cable and phone in order to afford health insurance. Just pass a law for my tax money to subsidize your cable and phone expenses. Solved!

brentspolemics on March 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Can’t we all just send our bill directly to you? Kind of like single payer cable and phone?

oldroy on March 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM

LOL. Let’s just force all families by law to help anyone in their social sphere who, according to government calculations, deserves financial help in order to buy cable and phone service.

brentspolemics on March 12, 2014 at 3:18 PM

President Barack Antoinette Obama!

ajacksonian on March 12, 2014 at 3:20 PM

The more I see Obama, the more contempt I have for his mother, his grandmother, his grandfather, and every one of his teachers.

Liberal parenting and racism creates lazy, incompetent children who can’t do anything but blame everyone else for their problems.

Obama is not a man. He’s a stupid black child.

northdallasthirty on March 12, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Obama is not a man. He’s a stupid black child.

northdallasthirty on March 12, 2014 at 3:28 PM

It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with my family, singin’ and dancin’ down in Mississippi Indonesia…

dentarthurdent on March 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM

WSJ says the individual mandate has been secretly postponed until after the next election….

d1carter on March 12, 2014 at 10:18 AM

How exactly do you do that?

Happy Nomad on March 12, 2014 at 10:25 AM

How’s he going to do that? He’s got a pen and a phone; he’s going to write an executive order, ya big dumby.

Kat_man on March 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Ha! Think about it! The guy with the question is wondering about the $300/mo premium. What will that SAME guy say after he starts running up doctor bills and then learns what the word “deductible” means. Right now, many Americans are so stupid they literally don’t know what a deductible is. So many will learn the hard way and CANCEL their policy once they do. Can’t you hear that same guy saying,”Whoa, you means I gotta struggle to pay the $300+ a month and then the first $3,000 in bills is 100% on me? Forgetaboutit, Obama!”

BillCarson on March 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM

He floats.

Mason on March 12, 2014 at 3:48 PM

I would love to see someone ask a Senate Dem up for re-election about this and watch their response.
Pretty please?

Seriously, ya gotta believe they’re having a face-palm moment right about now.

Pelosi Schmelosi on March 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Isn’t King Putt the “Technology President”?
But he wants you to give up cell phones and cable TV to pay for 0bumblescare – and he doesn’t know how to use a standard credit card swipe at the store….


dentarthurdent on March 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM

”Whoa, you means I gotta struggle to pay the $300+ a month and then the first $3,000 in bills is 100% on me? Forgetaboutit, Obama!”

BillCarson on March 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM

My only comment – the deductibles are much higher than $3000 for a low end plan whose premiums are ONLY $300 a month.

dentarthurdent on March 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Yeah, but have you seen the price of arugula lately?

jnelchef on March 12, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Schadenfreude on March 12, 2014 at 2:18 PM

You’re back! This is great news!

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on March 12, 2014 at 4:17 PM

The Marie Antoinette of technology.

Hening on March 12, 2014 at 4:17 PM

ClownsToTheLeftOfMe on March 12, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Thank you

Schadenfreude on March 12, 2014 at 4:23 PM

It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with my family, singin’ and dancin’ down in Mississippi Indonesia…

dentarthurdent on March 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM


mdenis39 on March 12, 2014 at 4:43 PM

My only comment – the deductibles are much higher than $3000 for a low end plan whose premiums are ONLY $300 a month.

dentarthurdent on March 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Heh, the bronze plan my insurance co. offered me was about $250 a month and the deductible was $6000. That’s for just a single man in his 30s.

oryguncon on March 12, 2014 at 5:05 PM

What if I do cancel my cable and internet and I still can’t afford it. Should I cancel my electric, gas, water and everything else just so I can buy your mandated product? And all those products I choose to buy or not, And who are you to tell me what I need. What would you know about sacrifice? Your choices are between 2 weeks in Hawaii or 3, how many rounds of golf have you played so far?


phatfawzi on March 12, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Obama will never give up on Obamacare due to his ego even if his Party goes down with it.

Decoski on March 12, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Ok Schad, how much ransom did you have to pay?

Personally, I’d like to unilaterally suspend my taxes.

Doc Holliday on March 12, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Glad you are back, Schad… I was saddened at the thought of your commentary might be at an end…

PointnClick on March 12, 2014 at 5:35 PM

This is hilarious. Our own Hugo Chavez.n Keep voting democrat you godless morons!

Murphy9 on March 12, 2014 at 5:40 PM

By executive order, Obama just increased the choco allotment from 6 ozs to 4 ozs per month for the good people of Nevada.

BobMbx on March 12, 2014 at 5:56 PM

yeah, so people should cut their cell phone and internet subscriptions so that he and those annoying brats of his and that nasty piece of work that is his wife could go holidaying around the globe, What this pompous imbecile ass doesn’t get is that cell phones save lives every day (sometimes internet too, assuming one uses skype in the absence of cell phone or landline, etc) and this is how you usually call in case of emergency in the 21st century, any emergency for that matter. Hard to imagine that there’s a bigger a***hole than this pathetic excuse for a man.

jimver on March 12, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Sad part is, the los votantes de información de baja who watched that interview still think he’s protecting them from the racist Rethuglicans.

KS Rex on March 12, 2014 at 6:38 PM

How many milions of people canceled their cable and phones back in 2009 and still haven’t turned them back on. Many more people are out of work than the LSM reports.

What a jackass.

dogsoldier on March 12, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Why doesn’t he start by cancelling the obamaphone susbcriptions to his people, that we pay for anyways…

jimver on March 12, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Typical LI (D)Marxist:

The RetHUGlIKKKanS want to shut off my cable and cell phone!!1111!!!eLeBiNtY!!11

To the barrycades!

98ZJUSMC on March 12, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Happy to see you, Schad !
Knew that both you & Ed are reasonable folk, and would get around to this, eventually.

pambi on March 12, 2014 at 7:32 PM

So, today it’s “Cut your cable.”

Tomorrow, it’ll be “You don’t need that vacation.”

Then, they’ll say “Hey, revise your food budget. Eating less will make you healthier, anyway!”

Isn’t socialized medicine grand?

englishqueen01 on March 12, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I just hope this gets spread throughout Hispanic communities. They’re being used and it’s ridiculous. It’s time to stop being taken for granted, as the Dems do take Hispanics for granted.

MN J on March 12, 2014 at 10:01 PM

O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” revised.

If you love me, you’ll sell your hair,
Just to buy Obamacare.

Greyledge Gal on March 13, 2014 at 2:22 AM

And pump up your tires to save gas!

mikesixes on March 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Working’ overtime, saving every penny so I can get cable and cell phone and you want me to cancel them? I ain’t got’em.

Herb on March 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Obama lying again — from the Telemundo interview.

Even if you’ve got health insurance on the individual market, you should see if, in fact, you’re getting the best health insurance you can. I saw– I met a woman yesterday– I was in Connecticut. She drove up from Rhode Island to thank me. Because even though she had health insurance, it turned out that she hadn’t read the fine print, and she had not been covered when she got leukemia.

It wasn’t gonna cover all the costs. And she literally said to me, “You saved my life because we could not have afforded to get treatment. Fortunately, we were able to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. And now the treatments that I have was covered and I’ve been in remission now for a year.” So as I said before, the– the– the– the problem with health insurance is, people don’t necessarily wanna pay for it until something goes wrong.

How can this so called 0 voter have been in remission for a year due to the treatment she got from 0bamacare? Dates don’t line up! It wasn’t available in the treatment time and one year of resultant remission.

FireBlogger on March 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM

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