Free Markets, Free People

Why The Proposed Health Care Reform Isn’t Selling

As much as some would like to believe that the reason that Obamacare isn’t doing well among the American people has to do with “misinformation” being thrown about, in reality it is much more basic than that. Ramesh Ponnuru does a very good job of laying out the two conflicting portions of the promises made and why Americans aren’t buying the explanations given by politicians when they question them:

There are two basic points about health-care reform that President Obama wants to convey. The first is that, as he put it in an ABC special in June, “the status quo is untenable.” Our health-care system is rife with “skewed incentives.” It gives us “a whole bunch of care” that “may not be making us healthier.” It generates too many specialists and not enough primary-care physicians. It is “bankrupting families,” “bankrupting businesses” and “bankrupting our government at the state and federal level. So we know things are going to have to change.”

Obama’s second major point is that–to quote from the same broadcast–“if you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don’t want you to have to change … So what we’re saying is, If you are happy with your plan and your doctor, you stick with it.”

So the system is an unsustainable disaster, but you can keep your piece of it if you want. And the Democrats wonder why selling health-care reform to the public has been so hard?

Add to this the fact that while Obama makes the promise about keeping your doctor and keeping your coverage, the legislation that has been passed out of committee in the House does not reflect that promise at all. Underlay all of that with the understanding most Americans have about the proven inability of government to handle anything in an efficient and cost-effective manner and you can understand both the angst and anger reflected out there today.

But Ponnuru’s point is very important – Americans may not be read in on the fine print and nuances of the bill (but then neither are the politicians who’re out there saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread without ever having read the thing), but they know enough to understand you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a radical and complete overhaul of a system – changing the status quo – while at the same time, at an individual level, keep everything in the “status quo”.

And that’s what they’re fighting. The conflicting promises are obvious. Just as obvious then is one of those promises is a lie. And Americans have figured out which it is. Thus the roiling anger at townhall meetings that greet the purveyors of the lie and polls showing whopping majorities of Americans want nothing to do with this plan.


11 Responses to Why The Proposed Health Care Reform Isn’t Selling

  • Well, the studies and data indicate that US health care has superior outcomes than the Euro/Canadian versions, and on top of that I have insurance and don’t have to wait for care. Why change that?

    I do agree we could improve our system by reducing costs; there is too much overhead in the form of insurance (government or private), managed care, and lawsuits. The path forward should include tort reform, price competition at the retail level, and a reduction in management overhead. Obama’s plan (whatever it’s final form) will not fix any problems, it will only make things worse, reduce your control over your healthcare, and reduce quality.

  • Things they could change right now that would have a positive effect without creating a beaurocracy to manage it:  Tort reform and removing restrictions on buying insurance out of state.  This would help reduce the cost of  malpractice insurance and increase competition among insurance providers, reducing both health care cost and insurance cost.
    If they really want a system where everybody is covered then they could mandate somekind of traumatic care coverage which covers you if you have that occasional sucking chest wound but doesn’t cover that runny nose you get every spring when the flowers bloom.  kinda like the liability insurance you have to have on your car.

  • ” Obama makes the promise about keeping your doctor”
    Even at that, if you listen carefully he promises that you can keep your current doctor.  No promise of choosing your next doctor.

  • I think the problem can be better described this way: the public understands that what Obama and Company is trying to do is to get them to accept a version of Calvinball, in which the pro-socialist side is the only one allowed to change the rules on a whim.

  • As thrilled as I am to see momentum building against Obamacare, it’s still disappointing that so much of it based in empirical arguments, rather than philosophical (principled) ones. As with any of these issues, it simply staves off the fight for another day.

    I don’t care that Obamacare will add X trillion to the deficit, or force these people to forsake this and those to forsake that, or add such-and-such bureaucracy and increase so-and-so costs. I mean, I care about those things in a generic sense, but they’re not my motivation for opposing government involvement in health care. I oppose it because it infringes individual liberty, and infringing individual liberty is the opposite of what the U.S. government is supposed to do.

    Have we so lost the liberty argument that it’s just not a winning tactic anymore? Is that what it boils down to? So we now have to operate from the statist premise — “Well, it would be OK to do this if the numbers worked” — and simply argue that the numbers don’t work?

    Believe me, I love that all these folks are confronting and berating their grown-up student council dweebs Congressmen in these town hall meetings. It truly is refreshing. I just wish the arguments were different. These nitwits don’t need to be asked, “How are you going to pay for this?” and “Have you actually read the fine print of Section 134-A19?!” Rather, they need to be asked, “What gives you a claim to my life? What gives you this power? Why do you want such power? Do you understand you are there to guard my rights, not infringe upon them? Do you understand that the American experiment was meant to be unique in human history — that it was about liberty first and foremost? Do you consider the founders to have been immoral men, lesser than you, because they did not implement universal health care? Can you explain why their principles are no longer relevant?”

    Hell, I’d love to hear somebody simply ask, “Could you please define ‘health care’?”

    As I said, I’m afraid that anything else merely punts the issue down the road for another day, because the core dispute — between freedom and control — will not have been resolved. Arguing that Section 134-A19 is too costly implicitly grants that “too costly” is the core dispute. The opponent then merely needs to demonstrate that “too costly” will not be a problem. It keeps the debate on the left’s turf; it concedes their premises.

    Empirical arguments can win a battle, but they prolong the war — and even increase the long-term prospects for loss.

    • The problem is simple. When you’ve got a mike in your hand in front of a group, you’ve got about thirty seconds to make your case. Dropping into a philosophical argument, when all of the other side and even many of your supporters have been indoctrinated to believe is obsolete and irrelevant, isn’t going to make much of an impact.

      I don’t like it either. But I’ve seen it far too often when I engage people one-on-one. Abstractions about freedom don’t work well. Most people only respond to things that affect them personally.

  • Hmm. Two questions:
    What are those little diamond question mark thingees under my post?
    So the strikethrough coding doesn’t actually work?

  • >>”Dropping into a philosophical argument, when all of the other side and even many of your supporters have been indoctrinated to believe is obsolete and irrelevant, isn’t going to make much of an impact.”
    Well, that’s what I was getting at with this, alas: “Have we so lost the liberty argument that it’s just not a winning tactic anymore?”
    >>”Most people only respond to things that affect them personally.”
    I’ll simply note that I wish people understood that their liberty affects them personally.
    Well, I’ll also note that this is one of those realities that makes me ever more misanthropic. Or at least makes me hate democracy.

  • Ugh, sorry about creating such a mess here. I thought I replied directly to Billy Hollis, and I’m positive I properly formatted my post.
    I must be missing something with the commenting software here.

  • I realize that the government takeover of healthcare has inferred economic consequences within the scope of our conversations involving patient care. While patient care is foremost an emotional and ethical consideration, it is naturally dominant in the forefront of the individuals concerns with respect to the rationale for objection to a single payor system and the logical consequences thereof.
    However, I believe a crucial point is being overlooked or under represented within our communities when discussing the motivations behind a government takeover of health care. Control over our lives, medical decisions, end of life decisions, all as a result of government controlled healthcare is not the logical motivation behind Democratic Party or Liberal efforts. They understand the backlash that is going to occur when rationing begins. What would make them eager to subject themselves to the wrath of citizens? What would make it worth the fall out?
    We have so much federal debt to nations such as China, that there must be a huge influx of money to the Feds and politicians in order to maintain the status quo or pay for the Congress’ irresponsible “credit card-like debt”. Doubling or tripling income taxes on private citizens is political suicide. Increasing corporate taxes will lead to decreases in the job market and the GDP.
    Taking in thousands of dollars a year in insurance premiums per person that is mandated and controlled by them would certainly enable them to pony up these huge sums. Billions of dollars will come forth and generate an income stream indefinitely. Happily for them this cash flow will not be tied to progressive taxation of each individual. Other entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare have a formula to allow us as citizens to recognize what we’ve “Paid in vs. Benefit”.
    Single payor government insurance will allow the Feds to skim money off the top, ( as they have done in the other programs) with no accountability. How will the individual ever know if they are getting their money’s worth? They will not. Health care provider’s salaries, drugs and procedure costs, under their control……this will be the greatest tax and money laundry scheme ever legally divised. Just think how they will be capable of managing and shuffling their debt and have left over pork and re-election money to boot!

    This is not altruism or helping fellow Americans……it is a slick way to appropriate a massive tax increase by another name and have a slush cash flow, with them looking like they really care about their constituents. I wish we could talk about this side of the equation more. If the people rationalized this simple truth, it would remove the emotional component of those that see this as humanitarian. In sheep’s clothing it is potentially evil. We know that if the apple is hung out there…..someone will take a bite out of it. We know that they cannot help themselves. They are weak and corrupt. If we leave them an open back door, we should not be surprised to come home one day and find our house barren and ourselves cleaned out.