I've been amazed at the public reaction to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, lovingly known to all as ObamaCare. Is the fact that it's been a bomb really news to THAT many people? When the news was wall-to-wall coverage of the immediate-upon-release meltdown of the Healthcare.gov website, I had to ask myself if the next story would be that the sun had risen that morning. Who in their right mind expected anything different? Had they never been to the DMV or post office? Had they never had to get a new social security card or find treatment in a VA hospital? Sure, setting up a website for e-commerce isn't rocket science, but did anyone really beleive it was something the US government could handle? The guys who know how to do these things work for Amazon, not the Department of Health and Human Services. And there's a reason for that.
Our federal government is needed to do a few things. Largely these things involve emergencies. Need some bad guys blown up? Send in the Marines. Have an outbreak of a mysterious illness? Send in the CDC. Hurricanes and tornadoes? Send in FEMA. These are things the government can handle with varying degrees of success, but they are things the private sector would have much more trouble with. Getting a mammogram (while important, ladies) is not something that rises to the level of an emergency that requires the mobilization of the most powerful government on Earth.
But the website is the least of the problems with Obamacare. The whole program is a poorly disguised fraud, it could never have done what it promised. Simple mathematics tells you that you can't do all three things the ACA set out to do. No system can reduce the cost of health insurance, cover more people, and make that coverage more medically inclusive. You could make insurance better and cheaper, but you'd have to offer it to much fewer (and healthier) people. You could make insurance cheaper and cover everyone, but you'd end up with crappy coverage and few choices of providers. Or you could do as Obamacare has done and cover more people with more inclusive insurance, but it will cost an arm and a leg, as we've all seen on the exchange -- if we can get to it.
I just can't get over that people are shocked at the cost of health plans under this system, and it seems a whole lot of them are. I wonder if these are the same people who are surprised they have their identities stolen after they send off their Social Security number and bank account info in response to the email telling them they just won the Ugandan lottery. If you have the slightest notion of what medical insurance IS, ObamaCare's promises were no more believable than that Ugandan lottery email. And a majority of the American electorate fell for it.
I think that's the problem, or at least half of it. I think maybe most of America really doesn't know what insurance is. They just think it's a way to pay the doctor. The idea that it's a pool of money coming in smaller amounts from a large number of people and going back out in larger amounts to a small number is lost on them. I think it was lost on everyone working on this law, including the President. It's not stupidity, it's ignorance, all the way to the top. Ignorance we can fix relatively easily. I think we are doing it right now the hard way as we all watch this thing flail about in the light of day. The other half of the problem is much worse, though.
I think that people may not even care to know how insurance works because they have been conditioned to believe that simply because it is a for-profit business, it is evil. Politicians have done a great job of convincing many Americans that profit is bad and that corporations and businesses are out to steal from, harm or even kill their customers and employees. This is obvious bullshit simply from a common sense logic standpoint, but demagoguery and propaganda are powerful things (just ask an elderly German). It is in any politician's best interest to focus anger on anything other than himself, and businesses, corporations and even our own bosses are easy targets. It plays to our base emotions of jealousy and even greed to think that we deserve more and the only reason we don't have it is an unfair system run by evil, moneyed interests.
And since those evil dudes are always kind of vague, how are we, the powerless little guys, to fight back? Why, we need a champion, we need selfless, non-greedy, super hero-esque figures to fight for us. We need......politicians? Don't laugh, it's how most of you vote. Dirty secret is that while a business exists to take your money (for which it by definition gives you something of value to you in return), politicians exist to take your freedom. Every second they are in office they are telling you what books are too risque for your child to read, who you can marry, what you can feed your family, what kind of light bulb to use, where you can and can not express your opinions, what words you can use, who you are going to give charity to, and a billion other things. And they do this because YOU tell them to.
So people believed that the reason people with pre-existing conditions had a hard time finding coverage and insurance rates were what they were was because the insurance companies were greedy and evil and wished death and destruction on their customers. They believed that politicians could fix it, that they could have a low-cost policy delivered to every man, woman and child tied to the horn of a unicorn and signed in rainbow ink.
The real world just bitch slapped the American public. Let's hope it wakes them up.
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