Quote: The pre-Obamacare individual market “is a horror show.”

Given the presidents (kind of, sort of) apology during an interview last night with NBC’s Chuck Todd, referencing policy ‘cancellations’ in the existing individual insurance market, and the continued political furor over a campaign promise, it’s probably helpful to take a step back and remember the way things were (spoiler: not a utopia).

The lede (byline Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas) in today’s Wonkbook does just that:

Obama was wrong to promise that everyone who liked their insurance could keep it. For a small minority of Americans, that flatly isn’t true. But the real sin would’ve been leaving the individual insurance market alone.

The individual market — which serves five percent of the population, and which is where the disruptions are happening — is a horror show. It’s a market where healthy people benefit from systematic discrimination against the sick, where young people benefit from systematic discrimination against the old, where men benefit from systematic discrimination against women, and where insurers benefit from systematic discrimination against the uninformed.

The result, all too often, is a market where the people who need insurance most can’t get it, and the people who do get insurance find it doesn’t cover them when it’s most necessary.

Emphasis mine. You should read the rest. The portion of the five percent, like the case of Lee and JoEllen in San Francisco, who might pay more in the near term for the same (or, yes, worse) benefits got those policies for a reason. Their good fortune didn’t exist in a vacuum, or as the sole result of a virtuous lifestyle, it existed on the shoulders of the excluded.

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