President Obama: “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. Period.”
Americans: “We lost our health insurance plans!”
President Obama: “Those weren’t real health insurance plans, they were scams.”
Americans: “But we liked being scammed!”
I don’t understand why the Administration is not doing a better job messaging. Most of America seems to be under the impression people are losing cheap, quality health care plans, when what Obamacare is actually doing is shutting down scams that looked like health insurance, but never even paid back the cost of premiums, ever.
It’s not as if the information isn’t out there. Consumer Reports described the plans in question as “[not] real health insurance at all.” Daily Kos has done a great job following up on reports of people who claimed their costs were soaring, and found that Obamacare is actually getting them better plans at lower prices, and explaining how insurance companies alarmist cries “Obamacare is shutting down your plan” are pretty much–surprise–a scam.
There’s also been a glut of headlines about soaring premiums, which sounds terrible until one considers the actual cost of health insurance, which includes deductibles, copays, coverage limits, and out-of-pocket fees. Almost without exception, even accounting for higher premiums, Obamacare is saving people money and getting them better insurance. The media, right-wing and otherwise, is taking too much information from the Insurance companies, whose exploitation of Americans is the thing Obamacare set out to limit, and the GOP, who oppose anything remotely related to Obama or the Democrats.
Shortly after Obamacare took effect, the GOP established a hotline for people to call if they felt they were hurt by the new law. Plenty of people called, of course. Fox has been promoting the number like they’re running a telethon. And because fact-checking is one of those things they leave to the “lamestream media,” the right-wing has disseminated these stories about people being harmed, when in fact the law is protecting them. It’s as if Obama put an end to deceptive direct-mail scams, and the Republicans are crying out “those Americans may already have been winners!”
Naturally, the rest of the media has largely gone along with this narrative, because someone at some point convince them they are not permitted to ask questions. The American media is a weathervane, turning in whatever direction the prevailing wind is blowing–and so instead of offering guidance to the public, they reinforce whatever myth and urban legend has taken hold. Basically the media is your Facebook feed, and every once in a while somebody links to Snopes.
Now it’s entirely possible a few people are losing good plans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not assuming the cases researched by Kos and Consumer Reports are representative of 100% of the public. But while changes to the law are warranted to protect those people, they are not representative. All this talk about “grandfathering plans” is frightening, because a blanket grandfather clause would permit all of those exploitative “junk health insurance” plans (to use Consumer Reports’ term) to continue tricking people into paying for something that won’t ever help them, ever.
I understand the difficulty of conveying nuance in a political argument, but sometimes I get the sense the Obama people have stopped trying.
Personally, I think the President grossly underestimated Americans’ ability to like garbage.