Section: Opinion

Local perspective more insightful than stats

By Matthew Eley

Obamacare in Knox County” (Jan. 29, 2015), writers Nathaniel Shahan and Deborah Malamud began an excellent insight into how the local area has received and benefited from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Part of their ascertaining local sentiment involved interviewing Kristi Layton P’18 of Centerburg.

The piece also prompted a letter to the editor by Professor of Biology Joan Slonczewski, printed in this week’s issue on the adjacent page. Slonczewski’s remarks in support of the ACA are ones worth reading and I do not wish to contest them with local anecdotes. In Knox County, one would find personal stories both for and against the ACA, as we have both the healthy and the ailing individuals needed to respectively fund and justify the tax. But the story’s conclusion — in which Layton personally was not pleased with the ACA — cannot be smoothed over by good intentions and generalities as Slonczewski provides. Individual stories are hard to quantify for a good reason, and they get in the way of sound conclusions. But not giving those personal experiences due diligence is akin to trustees visiting Gambier twice yearly and assuming they know the situation as intimately as residents — which they do, so I suppose there is a precedent.

But as far as Layton’s own personal experience with the ACA, I don’t think it’s prudent to chalk a local business owner’s bad experience with the program up to nationally assumed problems. Slonczewski’s assertion that Layton incurred costs twice of what she used to pay for want of an insurance navigator suggests either the ACA is needlessly complex or Layton was unable to give it due diligence.  I am sure neither conclusion was Slonczewski’s intended one.

Layton’s experience, though anecdotal, is certainly not a singular appearance. To dismiss it an “individual having to pay more” on account of previous poor insurance (which Layton, we might assume, chose rationally) and their lacking access to an insurance navigator, when the news story did not specify either of these details, is unfair to the individual interviewed and the reporters.

It is easy to discount the value of individuals in regards to their personal experience regarding those national political issues with which we are so attuned. The Collegian writers sought to circumvent this perspective by specifically seeking out local impressions that will have not made it to the national perspective and thus, more likely than not, to the Hill.

Matthew Eley ’15 is an English major from Howard, Ohio. Contact him at


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