Confusing-as-hell defense of COBRA becomes rallying cry for Medicare for All

'Honestly this thread is a better case for single-payer than anything you’ll ever read from an advocate.'


Libby Cohen

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 30, 2020   Updated on May 19, 2021, 4:40 pm CDT

Federalist contributor Chris Jacobs tried to debunk a claim for Medicare for All that was tweeted by a New York Times columnist on Thursday.

He ended up making a great argument for universal healthcare.

New York Times opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig sparked a massive Twitter conversation when she shared her personal health insurance circumstances on Thursday. In between jobs, she said she temporarily was not covered by health insurance. Knowing well the costs of uninsured healthcare, Bruenig tweeted in favor of Medicare for All.

“Due to getting a new job, I temporarily have no health insurance and one child needs her 6/mo vaccines and the other has a fever/ear pain. not really sure what to do but i have a feeling it’s not gonna be cheap. love that freedom #M4A” @ebruenig tweeted.

In response, Jacobs crafted a 20-tweet thread attempting to discredit Bruenig’s story. Along the way, highlighting the complexity and cost of the current system, he made a better case for universal healthcare than Bruenig could have originally tweeted.

THREAD: Let’s examine all the possible ways this @ebruenig tweet represents #FakeNews — and one of the sillier arguments for #SinglePayer I’ve heard in a long time… 1/,” he wrote. 

In the seventh tweet, Jacobs brought up COBRA. The Continuation of Health Coverage Act is a government health plan that was made for workers that were in between jobs for reasons that vary from reduction of hours to other life events like divorce and dismissal.

COBRA, however, is not free.

“Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102% of the cost to the plan,” COBRA’s website states.

Coverage up to 102% of the cost in America means a pricey medical bill. And Jacobs openly admits that.

“COBRA IS expensive, but for three months, it would cost a few grand at most. Do I have sympathy for a @nytimes columnist who says she can’t afford a bill amounting to a few thousand bucks? Absolutely not. 7/” he continued.

This was the turning point for Jacobs. Because not everyone has a few grand laying around for healthcare costs, many Twitter users saw this as the perfect example of why the United States is in need of healthcare reform.

“Honestly this thread is a better case for single-payer than anything you’ll ever read from an advocate,” Vox founder Matthew Yglesias tweeted.

“‘a few grand at most’ cool cool, good system,” @GiovanniTorre replied.


A few thousand a month is more than I earn in a month headass,” @onionsandpeppe1 tweeted.


Others chimed in as well, highlighting the ridiculous thread. His concluding tweet got over 1,000 replies.

Jacobs has written a book called The Case Against Single Payer. Must be a fascinating read.


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*First Published: Jan 30, 2020, 4:45 pm CST