This story is over 5 years old.


Paul Ryan says the problem with Obamacare is the way insurance works

Armed with a Powerpoint presentation, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan attempted a lecture in a televised press conference Thursday about why Obamacare should be repealed. One of his points asserted that Obamacare is fatally flawed because it uses money from healthy people to pay for sick people — or how the concept of insurance works.

Gesturing to his pie chart, divided between healthy people, coded in blue, and sick people, in red, Ryan explained the basic tenet of insurance: A bunch of people pay insurance premiums and then that money is used to pay off claims as they arise.


“The fatal conceit of Obamacare is that we’re just going to make everybody buy our health insurance at the federal government level. Young and healthy people are going to go into the market and pay for the older, sicker people. So the young, healthy person is going to be made to buy healthcare, and they’re going to pay for the person, you know, who gets breast cancer in her 40s or who gets heart disease in his 50s,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s qualm, in particular, is with the Obamacare mandate that requires insurance companies charge premiums to the elderly no more than three times higher than the young. Were that mandate not there, the old and sick who need help the most would be charged considerably more than the young — a policy called “age rating.”

Ryan’s bill to replace Obamacare increases that ratio to 5:1, meaning insurance companies can charge the old up to five times as much as the young. Signaling its strong opposition, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which represents millions of American seniors, called that portion of the bill an “age tax.” In fact, a study from the organization claimed a return to age-rating would increase premiums for the elderly by thousands of dollars.

If the bill becomes law, about 10 million people overall would lose their healthcare, according to an S&P Global report.

Ryan was attempting to thread several needles in his press conference as he faces both liberals who want to keep Obamacare and conservatives who want Obamacare fully repealed. It’s not clear he succeeded convincing either side, but the bill claimed its first procedural victory early Thursday morning when it passed through the House Ways and Means Committee after about 18 hours of debate and later Energy and Commerce Committee. President Trump confirmed he will sign the bill if and when it reaches his desk.

In a press briefing that afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Ryan’s presentation a “very good Powerpoint.”