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The Apothecary's 2013 Year In Review

December 31, 2013

By Avik Roy

2012 was a Presidential election year, in which health care policy was front-and-center. We figured 2013 would revert back to normal, and we at The Apothecary wouldn’t match our 2012 traffic. Boy, were we wrong. As Obamacare moved from theory to reality, Americans were looking for real-world information on how the law would affect them. And you ended up finding us, smashing all of our previous traffic records in the process. As The Apothecary moves to its new home, here’s a look back at our top 20 articles of the year, and our thoughts for the future.

Surging traffic driven by Obamacare’s chaotic rollout

In 2012, we had a record year for traffic at The Apothecary, with approximately 2 million unique visitors. (The most widely read article, clocking in at 98,339 views, was “How Obamacare Dramatically Increases The Cost Of Insurance For Young Workers,” a piece which continues to have relevance today.)

In 2013, we exceeded ten million unique visitors, with approximately 11 million total visitors and 14 million page views. The largest driver of traffic to The Apothecary was Yahoo, followed by Google, Facebook, Drudge, and Twitter. Yahoo and Facebook, in particular, surged in importance compared to 2012, as more and more people shared articles they liked with their friends on social networks.

Our best month was October—the chaotic first month of Obamacare’s rollout—in which The Apothecary reached 2.2 million unique visitors, 2.4 million total visitors, and 3.5 million page views. In 2012, not one Apothecary article exceeded 100,000 page views. In 2013, more than 30 did. Two broke a million.

So much of our success is due to the talented people at Forbes, led by Lewis D’Vorkin, who built this platform from the ground up. If you want to understand the future of digital journalism, read Lewis’ blog. His team of techies work day in and day out to make sure that Forbes is taking advantage of every tool out there, so that writers like us can reach as many readers as possible.

The Apothecary’s top 20: Thanks, Obamacare!

Here are our 20 most widely-read articles of 2013, with traffic stats as of this morning. 19 of the 20 had to do with the Affordable Care Act.

1. Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare To Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 64-146% (1,494,891 views). California was the first state to report what health insurance premiums would look like under Obamacare. The state spun the numbers to make them look like they were lower than expected—a spin that was uncritically repeated by the White House, Paul Krugman, and progressives on down the line. In this article, I took my own look at the new premiums, and came to the opposite conclusion: Healthy Californians who shop for coverage on their own will see drastic premium hikes.

The piece set a Forbes record for fastest article to one million page views.

2. Obamacare’s Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn’t Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are (1,385,035 views). In early October, gained the title of Worst Website Rollout in World History. But what people hadn’t yet appreciated was that a big part of the reason why the rollout got botched was political. The Obama administration was so worried that Americans would be upset about rate shock under Obamacare, that it initially required users to enter all sorts of personal information before browsing plans. This crashed the back-end servers.

3. Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four (632,705 views). Back in 2008, Senator Obama and his team of Harvard health economists promised that his health plan would save “$2,500 per family per year.” They arrived at this estimate by projecting how much money Obamacare would save, and dividing by the number of families in America. In September, when Chris Conover replicated Obama’s analysis, and found that Obamacare would increase the average family’s health spending by $7,450, heads exploded across the left.

4. Obama To Labor Unions With Multi-Employer Health Plans: Drop Dead (602,918 views). One of the most fascinating stories of 2013—and one that Apothecary readers especially responded to—was the increasing discomfort of labor unions with Obamacare. At the AFL-CIO quadrennial convention in September, unions passed a resolution roundly criticizing the law (see #9 below). Obama responded by explaining that a key change in the law that unions were seeking couldn’t be altered by executive fiat.

5. Yet Another White House Obamacare Delay: Out-Of-Pocket Caps Waived Until 2015 (541,216 views). Of all the ways in which the White House unilaterally delayed the implementation of Obamacare, this August delay—of the law’s caps on out-of-pocket health plan expenses—generated the most traffic.

6. Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg. Individual-Market Insurance Premiums By 99% For Men, 62% For Women (535,733 views). Days before the official October 1 launch of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, the Department of Health and Human Services released a memo claiming that premiums under Obamacare would be “lower than originally expected.” I analyzed their data with my colleagues at the Manhattan Institute and came to a different conclusion.

7. Enrollment In Obamacare’s Federal Exchange, So Far, May Only Be In ‘Single Digits’ (507,927 views). Given all of the hype, and all of the preparation, and all of the millions of people who visited on its first day of operation, it turned out that less than ten people—ten—actually signed up for health insurance.

8. Government Takeover: White House Forces Obamacare Insurers To Cover Unpaid Patients At A Loss (468,731 views). The first article from December on this list details one of the most egregious examples of unilateral, extralegal activity by the White House: using Mafia-style pressure tactics to force insurers like Aetna, Humana, and Molina to eat the losses caused by Obamacare’s bungled insurance exchanges.

9. Labor Unions: Obamacare Will ‘Shatter’ Our Health Benefits, Cause ‘Nightmare Scenarios’ (415,797 views). In July, three of the nation’s most prominent labor leaders—Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Hanen, and D. Taylor, fired off a letter to Harry Reid, complaining that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

10. On Labor Day 2013, Welfare Pays More Than Minimum-Wage Work In 35 States (371,234 views). The only non-Obamacare article on the list. In August, Cato Institute scholars Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes published a study estimating that federal welfare programs—in particular, cash welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance—paid out so much that many welfare recipients have no incentive to seek work. I proposed a solution employed in Sweden: taxing welfare benefits so they are taken into account for income eligibility purposes.

11. Not Qualified For Obamacare’s Subsidies? Just Lie — Govt. To Use ‘Honor System’ Without Verifying Your Eligibility (347,814 views). One of the biggest concerns about Obamacare—one that will become an even larger story in 2014 and 2015—is how easy it will be to game the system and gain taxpayer-funded subsidies that you’re not actually eligible for. A related story will be how the IRS claws back subsidies from well-intentioned people who made mistakes on their application, or whose life circumstances have changed.

12. Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums (286,162 views). In response to my piece on rate shock in California, some progressive columnists argued that rate shock was a good thing, because it offered important “consumer protections” and ensured that sick people would be charged no more than healthy people for the same insurance plan. I replied that this was a more intellectually honest argument than pretending that rate shock doesn’t exist.

After the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and I went back and forth a few times on this topic, we sat down in his offices for a 45-minute wonk fest on the ins and outs of Obamacare’s new insurance regime. We joked at the time that our discussion would be so boring that no one would watch it. But a week doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t come up to me thanking us for our wide-ranging, substantive discussion.

Original Source:



America's Legal Order Begins to Fray
Heather Mac Donald, 09-14-15

Ray Kelly, Gotham's Guardian
Stephen Eide, 09-14-15

Time to Trade in the 'Cadillac Tax' on Health Insurance
Paul Howard, 09-14-15

Hillary Charts the Wrong Path on Wage Inequality
Scott Winship, 09-11-15

Women Would Be Helped the Most By an End to the 'Marriage Penalty'
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 09-11-15

A Smarter Way to Raise Paychecks
Oren Cass, 09-10-15

Gambling with New York's Pension Funds
E. J. McMahon, 09-10-15

Vets Who Still Serve: After Disasters, Team Rubicon Picks Up the Pieces
Howard Husock, 09-10-15


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