Friday, October 18, 2013

Obamacare is Broccoli

The stereotype of Democrats is that we want you to live in a nanny state, that we act like we know what's best for everyone and if you don't like it you'll be punished.  Like parents trying to force their kids to eat broccoli.  No matter how much we insist, "it's good for you!" or "just try might like it!" most kids are too stubborn to listen.  They'd rather be sent to their room without desert or some other kind of punishment.  My anti-Obamacare friends speak about the law like it's broccoli.

"I'm not buying it!  I'd rather just pay the fine!"

When I point out that they'll be saving money by buying the discounted insurance from the Obamacare marketplace rather than paying the outrageous medical bills they'll receive the next time they're faced with a major illness, I get a lot of yeah-buts and not a lot of conversation about consequences.  Just like kids.  I guess my anti-Obamacare friends don't have the capacity to think that far into the future.  "I never get sick.  And if I do I'll deal with it then."  Or, like kids, maybe they're just too stubborn to understand how ridiculous it is to say you don't like something without trying it.

Parent:  "Eat your broccoli."
Kid: "No!  It's gross."
Parent: "Have you ever tried broccoli?"
Kid: "No!  It's gross!"
Parent: "How do you know it's gross if you've never tried it?"
Kid: "It's gross!"

Pro-Obamacare American: "Buy health insurance at a discounted rate on the Obamacare marketplace!"
Anti-Obamacare American: "No!  It's awful!"
Pro-Obamacare American: "Have you logged onto the website and tried to enroll?"
Anti-Obamacare American: "No!  It's awful!"
Pro-Obamacare American: "How do you know it's awful if you've never tried it?"
Anti-Obamacare American: "It's awful!"

Now, I don't like Obamacare all that much either.  I'd rather see our nation turn to a single-payer system, or universal health care, so that everyone is insured with a Medicare-like program.  And Medicare is great.  Just ask my 86-year old conservative dad, a retired accountant who, one could argue, loves money more than people.  He freaking loves his government-provided health insurance.

It's grumpy old man approved!

Universal health care would be more cost-efficient, more humane, and better for business.  It would free businesses from the extraordinary burden that is providing employees with private health care insurance.  So guess what?  They could pay employees more, or hire more workers.  Or they could continue to be jerk offs too, if that's the route they want to take.  See: Wal-mart could continue to pay its employees non-living wages, keep their prices low and their profits high, and basically not change a thing since most of their employees already qualify for Medicaid because they are so poor anyway.

With universal health care, those of us who like our free time (Dad would call us dirty hippies) wouldn't have to work forty-hours a week just for the health insurance, so more people could switch over to a part-time job that allows them to spend more time with their kids, spend time on creative hobbies, or just swing their asses in a damn hammock in the backyard while sipping lemonade if that's what they want to do.  This whole working-forty-hours-a-week thing is a drag, man.  I'd love to see our culture evolve into one where unpaid work (spending time with your children) and leisure pursuits (writing, painting, fixing up old cars, hiking through the woods, binge watching TV shows, whatever the hell brings enjoyment into your life and harms no one else) were valued more.  

I might be a dreamer (Dad's voice reminds me of this in the back of my head daily), but I'm pragmatic enough to understand that, as much as I think I dislike Obamacare, it's better than nothing.  I'm at least willing to try it before I say it's awful.

I wish more Anti-Obamacare people would be willing to try it.  There's a great article in Salon from a journalist who fact-checks a Sean Hannity segment.  He re-interviews guests who had been on Hannity's show complaining about how Obamacare is ruining their lives.  During the interviews, he discovers than none of them had even tried to enroll in it yet.  

The journalist, Eric Stern, puts the blame on Hannity:

"I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist."

Now, quit dilly-dallying around on my blog and go check out the Obamacare marketplace website.  And when you're done, go eat some broccoli!