Mainstream media outlets were slow to cover the Obama administration's Monday announcement of a 25 percent average increase in federal Obamacare premiums for 2017, and for some, the news wasn't worth covering at all.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday at 5 p.m. that in addition to the price increase affecting 39 states, there would be 36 percent fewer plans to choose from. When data was used from the four state-run exchanges for which data was available, and the District of Columbia, the average price increase dropped just a little, to 22 percent.
HHS released the news at 5 p.m., but even hours later, no trace of the story could be found on the websites of NBC News or MSNBC.
Other mainstream news outlets that did decide to cover it did so only a few hours after the HHS embargo ended at 5 p.m.
The Washington Post, for example, initially didn't put the story anywhere on its front page. Only by searching the Post's website could readers discover that the paper put up the AP story on the announcement, headlined: "Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes."
Then, just before 7 p.m., the Post put up its own version of the story with the headline: "Average premiums for popular Affordable Care Act plans rising 25 percent for 2017." The story appeared under a story about Cleveland's recent "sports prosperity," a reference to the Indians making the World Series, and the Cavaliers' recent NBA championship.
The New York Times took the same approach. The story was absent from its front page for a few hours, but a search revealed it also went with the AP story.
Just before 8 p.m., the Times had its' own story that appeared in the top left-hand column of its website: "Some Health Plan Costs Will Rise Sharply, U.S. Says." A subheadline said the increases "all but ensure that the next president will need to make significant adjustments to the health law."
The Los Angeles Times also ran with the AP story, but did put the story on its front page. The story, however was quickly bumped down lower as other local stories were given higher priority, and the L.A. paper didn't have its own version of the story as of 9 p.m.
ABC News' website posted the AP's "double-digit premium hikes" story at the top of its page at 7:49 p.m., nearly three hours after HHS released the information, and its nightly newscast mentioned it just before 7 p.m.
CBS has the story up relatively early, at just after 6 p.m., with the headline: "It's official: Double-digit rate hikes for Obamacare." And the left-leaning Huffington Post had a story up at about 6:30 p.m., but one that couldn't be found on the front page of its website.
With the exception of the Washington Post, all of these news outlets that ran with the story masked the extent of the rate hike in their headlines. Some on Twitter noticed that the AP's headline, which many duplicated, seemed to downplay the increase by not saying the number, and instead relied on the more vague "double-digit" language.
Chris Deaton of the Weekly Standard retweeted a comment that said "double digits" is an "odd way to say 25%." However, even Fox News kept that language in the story it placed relatively high on its homepage.
Other news outlets were less timid. The Daily Beast ran its own story, "Obamacare premiums to rise 25%," and USA Today blared on the front of its website: "Some Obamacare rates could rise 25%, feds say on opening day."
This story was updated Tuesday morning to reflect the Huffington Post story.