Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Danger of Misconceptions

I was really stoked by all the attention that was brought to healthcare as a result of the Obamacare ruling. I really hoped that people would start to see the problems facing healthcare and work together as a society to address them. Instead, I have seen false analogies, irrelevant arguments, and way too much angry rhetoric. The misconceptions going around are preventing us from discussing the more important issues of how to provide better healthcare at a lower cost.

My plea to you is that you will avoid these arguments and focus on the actual issues at hand. These are primarily republican arguments spreading around right now because they are the ones who are obviously upset. Please know that I'm not trying to bash your political views, I'm just begging you to stop using poor arguments because they are not going to improve healthcare in the country that I love.

Here are the biggest misconceptions that I have seen going around:

1. The argument: "Obamacare is the largest tax hike in US history."
The Problem: No it isn't. According to a Forbes article written by Merrill Matthews, whose self professed goal is to "expose liberal nonsense," (This should be a red flag) Obamacare is the largest tax hike in US history by the following logic:

So he starts off sounding all academic by providing the median U.S. family income of $50,000ish (he even cites his source!) but then provides a really high figure of $20,000 for health insurance without providing any source (red flag). Problems here:

  • Median U.S. family income includes all the really poor people who do not purchase health insurance and qualify for Medicaid or other financial assistance. What he should be looking for is the "median U.S. family income for those who will be required to purchase health insurance without financial assistance"
  • The Kaiser Foundation did a survey that provides the average insurance amount that individuals pay. They cite the average cost of a family plan to be $15k - with only $4k paid by the employee and the rest paid for by the employer. Since I couldn't find median data this should be compared to the mean household income, which is closer to $68k
  • In addition to the terrible statistics is some terrible logic. If you are really set on viewing this as a tax then I guess that's fine with me, but don't make it sound like people are going to be paying for their own health insurance AND a tax on top of that! Here is what you are really trying to say: "Your taxes are increasing by the amount you pay out-of-pocket for health insurance, but you will no longer be paying out-of-pocket for your health insurance." 
Here's how it really breaks down according to an article in the Washington Post:

2. The Argument: "Congress is exempt from Obamacare" 
The Problem: No they're not. You can thank Sean Hannity (red flag) for this one. From the actual bill:

(i) REQUIREMENT.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be
health plans that are—
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment 
made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act). "

Congress will remain under their current health insurance plans until 2014 when they will be required to purchase their own health insurance through a health insurance exchange. The republicans are the ones who added this requirement and that's the end of that. This article explains it in more detail if you're interested. 

Someone posted a picture on Facebook (red flag) of a message written on the side of a van (HUGE red flag)

 It looks impressive! I mean they cited their source and everything - so I decided to look up Page 114 Line 22 which reads: "respect to any eligible small employer, the 2-consecutive-taxable..." and that's it. Looks like the guy who took the time to put this on his van didn't take the time to look up his source.  

3. The Argument: "We do not see any benefits of Obamacare for 4 years"
The Problem: This is both false and out-dated. This came up in 2010 when Obamacare first became a law. True, most of the law's major provisions do not happen until 2014 (4 years from 2010) but that doesn't mean there have been absolutely no benefits of the law up to now. According to a Fox News article (specifically chosen to for its known conservative bias), the law has helped 86 million people get preventative care and 2.5 million seniors get prescription drug discounts in 2011.

4. The Argument: "This is not constitutional"
The Problem: Um, yes it is. Obviously the constitutionality of it was in question beforehand, but as I have said before - the law was deemed constitutional by the process outlined in the constitution. Can we move on from this one yet? Nobody is going to receive better or cheaper healthcare as a result of this argument. The issues around the supreme court's decision making process have their place in public policy discussions but most people aren't talking about it in that context. 

5. The Argument: "It's constitutional, but it isn't right!"
The Problem: Well, this one is fine with me. If that's your opinion, then let it be. However, could you please, please, please propose an alternative plan? If it isn't right then what is? PLEASE - tell me how you want to work on fixing healthcare. I want details. I want a drafted alternative bill. Is that too much to ask? Please persuade me. Not with broad, sweeping statements like "allow freedom and liberty to work their course," but with data and logical arguments that outline a process our country can follow to achieve.

Angry rhetoric like this distances us from the real issues at hand. Our healthcare system is bankrupting our country and what are we doing about it? We are allowing a guy who painted the side of his van with a blatant lie to tell us what to think. Please stop. Please?

1 comment:

  1. I think that we should have a single-payer system. I also think it's immoral not to provide healthcare to everyone. I figure Jesus wasn't kidding with all that healing the sick that he got up to.

    I also think it's funny that people are up in arms about Obamacare, because he legitimately just stole the Republicans healthcare reform plan and implemented it.