With the roll-out of Obamacare and the ObamaCrash website, suddenly a lot of people are surprised that it’s a mess and that it’s hurting people, especially middle class people. You hear stories like the one about the woman who supported Obamacare and then, when her policy got cancelled and a new policy was more expensive with higher deductibles said, “I thought health care for everyone was a good idea, but I didn’t know I was going to pay for it.”
I guess I have answered the question in the title of my post: Who are these people that are surprised? They’re people who are detached from reality. They had to ignore the reality of the following:
“If you like your insurance, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” was an oft repeated lie by President Obama that was clearly an attempt to mislead people from the very beginning. It is simply not possible, and never was possible, that the government could create a list of mandatory coverages (which was part of the bill and it wasn’t even one of the parts we didn’t know about) and that wouldn’t make policies that many people bought and liked obsolete. Everybody with a connection to reality knew that when every policy had to include things like maternity care (something most people only add when they are thinking of having a baby, or fearful that they might become pregnant) the policy the single male, or the older couple past child bearing years, or of anyone who did not want that coverage would become obsolete. If you liked your coverage, but it didn’t include all the things the government mandated (which may or may not apply to you), your policy was going to go away. Those of us in touch with reality had no problem understanding that that would be the case, and we realized that the President of the United States was lying through his teeth when he said otherwise. When the government has decided what you must have, you don’t get what YOU want, you get what THEY want. It’s a simple socialism (or statism in any form) vs. capitalism equation. In capitalism, someone has to provide you with what you want in order to have you buy it in a free (un-coerced) transaction. In statism (socialism, fascism, progressivism) the state tells you what you must buy and penalizes you if you don’t buy it, whether you want it or not. Which method do you think is going to be less costly and give you what you want?
The website doesn’t work. Why does this shock people? Look at the incentives. The government isn’t trying to make a profit, so they have no incentive to bust their butts to get it right. They can force people to use it, so they don’t have to make it user friendly in the way a private sector company has to make their website slick and easy so that people will choose to use it and do business with them. The whole thing was run by bureaucrats whose incentive is to disperse blame, not to get something right. No bureaucrat wants to be the one taking charge because if things go wrong, they get the finger pointed at them. So all of the people, from all of the different bureaucracies or branches of bureaucracies have zero incentive to step up and say or do anything that will make a difference. Bureaucrats incentives are to keep their heads down and do as little as necessary, because there’s no great upside to sticking their necks out, but there is a downside. The current administration is the worst of bureaucracy from the Oval Office on down. Nobody takes responsibility. They say the right things, or the things that they think will play politically with the public, but real responsibility–the kind of head-on-the-chopping-block responsibility that people have to take in the private sector–is unknown. They mouth the words “I’m responsible” but they do so knowing there are no consequences. In fact, they do so knowing that they are rewarded for protecting Obama, who is actually responsible because he IS the head of the bureaucracy. Having a bunch of bureaucrats do something as complex as the Obamacare website is a recipe for failure. Why would anyone be surprised that a bureaucracy came out with a stinking pile of crap instead of a slick, well-functioning, website? Because people are still deceived into thinking that the incentives for bureaucrats are the same as the incentives for people in the private sector. They are NOT. They never will be. Bureaucrats do not have to care, or risk, or please the people they are supposed to be serving, because they don’t have the same scorecard that people in the private sector have. There isn’t even anyone being held to account for hiring the company that wrote the code. For those of us in touch with reality, we are not surprised that the government can not do something (anything) as well as it could be done in the private sector where the incentives are so vastly different.
NOTE (Update): The company hired to build the website is owned by a big Obama contributor/bundler. Are we surprised that a political crony got the no-bid contract? The same company has now been contracted to fix it. The bottom line is that, for the corrupt Obama administration, rewarding cronies is far more important than providing a website that works (as if they could).
The burden seems to be falling on the Middle Class. Most of the people signing up for Obamacare are going on Medicaid. The next big surprise coming is that in a few years, states are going to be in bigger financial trouble than they are now and the taxes are going to go up on the middle class (who will, by then, be re-defined as the rich: “If you’re making $60,000… You don’t need that much. Look how many of your fellow citizens are working part-time or are unable to find a job at all. The greed of the rich people who make $60,000 is… well, it’s unpatriotic is what it is.”). The hidden agenda of Obamacare is to hook more and more people on handouts (“subsidies”) from the government. People who are not connected to reality think the government has money–from the government money tree–and don’t realize that “government money” is actually money the government has had to appropriate from someone else (by force) who as earned it. The more the government spends, the more it has to take from people, and there is only so much money it can appropriate from people who are actually rich, so–as certain as shit runs downhill–middle class people will be forced to pick up the burden. The woman in my example above is suddenly having the light dawn on her. In order to subsidize other people’s insurance policies, YOUR policy has to be more expensive. (Interestingly, since ALL policies have to be more expensive, even the subsidized policies are more expensive than they have to be, so everyone is subsidizing someone unless they are the person getting the whole thing subsidized.) The Medicaid expansion means that not only are the truly needy getting “free” (someone else is paying for it) medical care, but so are people who formerly could take pride in being self-sufficient grown-ups. It sets up a situation, of course, where suddenly advancing in income becomes a problem, where if you advance too much, you actually lose money because you lose your Medicaid or part of your subsidy. You become stuck in the statist trap, where you MUST rely on government and you can’t advance yourself. If you are in touch with reality, you know of this trap. You understand that it is the cruel lie of “the government helping the poor” and is the reason why the government can spend more and more money (increasing it’s power the entire time) while the population of “poor” never shrinks. Government “help” is a disincentive to actually improve your own lot in life. However, as people DO have incentive to have more money, it DOES incentivize people to earn (or “get” would be a better word) money under the table… Like, through criminal activity. Is it a surprise that most people signing up for Obamacare are signing up for Medicaid? What option most increases government’s hold on people? No… It’s not surprising. Is it surprising that middle class people are the source of money used to subsidize other people’s insurance? Who else could it be? The “rich” still only need one policy per family. There aren’t enough of them (the rich) to subsidize everyone. If you have a clue to reality, you knew this was coming, and you are aware that it’s only going to get worse over time as more money in higher Obamacare premiums, or in federal and state taxes, or all three, are needed to keep this program afloat.
Obamacare can’t work. It never could. People in touch with reality–people who understand economics (or just math) and incentives and the nature of government–have known it all along. It should not be surprising that Obama lied. It was clear that he was because there was never any way in reality that he wasn’t… And, frankly, that’s who he is. The man is dishonest or stupid, and people tell me he’s smart, so he must be dishonest (oh, for the days of Clinton when a president only lied about their personal foibles). Government is lousy at customer service. How could they be in charge of creating a website that was user-friendly when they don’t even understand the concept of customer service in a bureaucracy? Moreover, how can anyone ever believe that they can be in charge of health care and NOT have it devolve into a complete mess? They have no incentive to give great customer service. They, therefore, will not. Is that hard to understand? If I baked cookies and the government forced people to buy my cookies, would I spend a lot of time and money making sure I had the best possible cookies for sale, or would I just slap some cookies together as cheaply as I could, not caring whether they were good tasting, or burnt, or undercooked, or whatever, because people had to buy them anyway? (My personal pride might make me try to make them great, but even that could wear down at some point.)
I’m glad people are surprised. Perhaps they are like the addict who wakes up one morning in the gutter, surprised that he’s there, but not realizing how he got there. When he realizes that it was the decisions he made, starting with taking the drugs in the first place, there’s real hope that he can change. Obamacare may be waking up some big-government addicts who thought taking the progressive drugs was a good idea. Now they are beginning to come-to in the gutter. Hopefully they’ll realize that what got them there was the taking the drug of big-government.
UPDATE: In 2010 (which was two years before the 2012 re-election of Obama), the regulations from HHS regarding “grandfathered” insurance policies were written. It was, in large part, this ability to “grandfather” a policy that might have made Obama’s promise of “If you like your insurance, you can keep it” even vaguely true. At that time (2010) it was clear that the regulations, and published by the government, would put an end (not “grandfather”) to up to 67% of the policies people “liked”. The Republicans actually fought these new regulations, implicitly stating that these regulations put the lie to the President’s promise, and they lost on a party-line vote. (Regulations, by the way, were made by bureaucrats that President Obama hires and oversees… they work directly for him.) Here’s my question: Why on earth did this not come out during the 2012 campaign? Sure, the media is left-leaning and they’d try to hide it. But Republicans had a candidate who could say stuff that the media had to report. There were live debates. The fact that Obama lied about “if you like your insurance…blah blah blah” as he sold the nation a bill of goods to pass Obamacare should have been front and center in 2012. (I haven’t researched it, but I’d be willing to bet that he made the same statement AFTER 2010, perhaps even during the campaign which took place after his own government had published that up to 67% of policies would be cancelled.) Perhaps the Romney people understood that Americans were so brainwashed by Obama and the compliant media that they wouldn’t really understand the impact of Obamacare until millions of people actually got their cancellation notices and then realized that they were paying more for insurance (not the $2500 less Obama also promised) than they were before “Affordable Health Care.”