Brow Beat

John Oliver Explains How Medicaid Is Like Gym Shorts

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver tackled two things that don’t usually get much attention: local elections and the Medicaid gap. For three states—Mississippi, Virginia, and Kentucky—local elections could either close or open the Medicaid gap, Oliver said. But, of course, to know why that matters, you need to know what the Medicaid gap is.

Under Obamacare, Oliver explained, the idea was that the uninsured would be split into two groups. People who make 138 percent or more of the poverty line could buy insurance with subsidies up to a certain point. Medicaid would expand to cover the people who make less than that. But 20 states declined to expand Medicaid—leaving more than 3 million people too “wealthy” to qualify for Medicaid, but too poor to qualify for and buy into Obamacare with subsidies.  

To explain the problem even more simply, Oliver offered a metaphor: “Healthcare is like a pair of gym shorts. Even if it covers nearly all of what it’s supposed to, you’re still left with some problematic gaps, and terrible things can happen.”