Friday, August 21, 2009

Health care reform complications and contradictions - Updated

Okay, I realize that I am beating health care reform (or health insurance reform or whatever else President Obama is calling it right now) to death. But this is the big policy dust up right now, so I will likely continue beating on reform until it either goes down in flames (as it looks like it might) or gets passed. So deal with it. Like the title says, I write about stuff that interests me and likely no one else. And given my limited readership, the title is probably more apt than I would like.

With that, back to the health care reform, Peggy Noonan has a column today that addresses the main problem with President Obama's attempt to pass it. In a nutshell, Obamacare is just too darn complicated for normal people to understand, and when normal people can't understand a government program, they won't ever trust it:

Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity. You can understand it when you hear it, and you can explain it to people. Social Security: Retired workers receive a public pension to help them through old age. Medicare: People over 65 can receive taxpayer-funded health care. Welfare: If you have no money and cannot support yourself, we will help as you get back on your feet.

These things are clear. I understand them. You understand them. The president's health-care plan is not clear, and I mean that not only in the sense of "he hasn't told us his plan." I mean it in terms of the voodoo phrases, this gobbledygook, this secret language of government that no one understands—"single payer," "public option," "insurance marketplace exchange." No one understands what this stuff means, nobody normal.

And when normal people don't know what the words mean, they don't say to themselves, "I may not understand, but my trusty government surely does, and will treat me and mine with respect." They think, "I can't get what these people are talking about. They must be trying to get one past me. So I'll vote no."

I don't believe this explains every objection that "normal people" have with the current proposals on health care reform, but it surely explains a good number of them. And I think such complaints are legitimate.

I also believe, as I mentioned before, that a lot of the objections that "normal people" have with Obamacare are the inherent contradictions contained within his sales pitch. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal has noticed these contradictions as well:

So the health-care status quo needs top-to-bottom reform, except for the parts that "you" happen to like. Government won't interfere with patients and their physicians, considering that the new panel of experts who will make decisions intended to reduce tests and treatments doesn't count as government. But Medicare shows that government involvement isn't so bad, aside from the fact that spending is out of control—and that program needs top-to-bottom reform too.

Voters aren't stupid. The true reason ObamaCare is in trouble isn't because "folks aren't listening," but because they are.

Update- Well, someone was nice enough to leave a comment on this post last night, and I thought I should respond to it. Here is the comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bru

How is this going to affect you and why are you so worried my dear boy? Are not there many in our great land who do not have access to coverage? You wanker!

August 21, 2009 11:12 PM

First, thanks for calling me a "wanker." That is such an underused term in the United States, much to my chagrin.

Second, I can think of several ways in which the proposed health care reforms will adversely affect me; here are two of the most critical impacts:
  1. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that H.R. 3200, which the House of Representatives will likely vote on this fall, would add approximately $239,000,000,000 to the federal government's budget deficit over the next 10 years. I really think that our law makers should focus on ways to cut, not increase, federal spending given that the Obama Administration just announced a 10-year budget deficit $9,000,000,000,000 late on Friday and the Chinese are becoming increasing skittish about our government's ability to repay its debts.

  2. In addition to the increased federal spending, several provisions in H.R. 3200 will raise the costs of health insurance coverage, not lower them as the President has repeatedly claimed. For example, this proposed legislation has provisions that require community rating (i.e., the insurer must determine its risks based upon the community in which you live rather than your actual health condition or the health condition of your employer's group), mandate that every health insurance policy provide certain types of coverage, place limits on deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and co-pays, prohibit cost-sharing for preventative care, and prohibit annual or lifetime caps on coverage. Except for the community rating requirement, all of these provisions will necessarily increase the costs of health insurance coverage, and if you are young and healthy, the community rating provision will increase your costs as well.
Third, in answer to your question about whether there exist many in our great land without access to health insurance, no, not really. President Obama and his supporters claim that their exist 47 million who lack access to health insurance, but here is a graphic portrayal of how that number actually breaks down:


  1. Mr. Bru

    How is this going to affect you and why are you so worried my dear boy? Are not there many in our great land who do not have access to coverage? You wanker!

  2. I think it's chagrin, not chagrine. You wankere!

    (from Kim)

  3. Thanks for catching the spelling error and for calling me a wanker(e).

  4. Greg:

    Keep up the good work ....absolutely hilarious and spot on...You wanker.