Obamacare: what it is, what it’s not

It’s no surprise that we haven’t seen a conservative alternative to Obamacare; Obamacare was the conservative alternative. Written by Michael Goodwin of Economix Comix. Illustrations by Dan E. Burr. Lettered by Debra Freiberg.

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Notable Replies

  1. Now, if we can only get this information to the people who rabidly oppose accurate information...

  2. dobby says:

    Obamacare sucks not because of !!OMG SOCIALISM!! but because it is regressive favoring insurance companies rather than normal people.
    I now live where there is socialized medicine but my wife's sister and husband end up saving money by paying the fine rather than getting the insurance for themselves which they can't afford. I dont fully know their financials but there are pre-existing conditions which got them kicked out of individual payer insurance and they haven had for at least ten years.
    WTF United State? Single payer health insurance is just as socialist as universal k-12 education and has similar payback to society inclding republican interests like WalMart which rely on socialism to subsidize their low wages.

  3. I would also share it with an (in-law) family member who hates Obamacare for all the usual reasons including the fact that his insurance premiums went up. It turns out that the 'insurance' he was getting from his employer basically amounted to a few GP visits every year.

    Of course I don't hold it against the people doing it (what choice do they have anyway?), but the amount of begging letters going around Facebook, Boing Boing and other sites from Americans who can't pay for their healthcare is embarrassing. Most of the time these people had good jobs before they got sick - they were also paying more than I do for insurance. A good friend of mine who was young, healthy, employed and insured almost died last year and now is tens of thousands in debt because he became ill with something tangentially related to another illness he had a few years ago. Say what you like about socialised healthcare, at least it involves countries paying for the basic needs of their own citizens. When healthcare becomes a crowdfunded popularity contest, this says some pretty serious things about the priorities of those in charge.

  4. Ignoring the utterly insane conspiracy theory derail, I'd like to mention that this is a good cartoon about a very important issue. I wish as many people would pay attention to this as to the latest Gamergate news.

  5. mathew says:

    I'm actually a bit disappointed that the cartoon doesn't point out that there's a fundamental problem with trying to use insurance to pay for healthcare: it doesn't work.

    Insurance is a mechanism for hedging against contingent uncertain loss. Healthcare has all kinds of economic properties that make it fundamentally unsuitable for insurance:

    • It's not uncertain -- everyone will need some.
    • It's not contingent -- need for treatment is often forseeable and caused by deliberate action, so there are moral hazard issues. (Furthermore, a lot of the need for treatment is caused by products sold by massively profitable corporations.)
    • It has massive information asymmetry -- the doctors know a lot more about medical science than the person expected to buy the insurance, or the person at the insurance company approving the treatment for that matter.
    • There's huge uncertainty -- read Ben Goldacre's stuff for an idea of how little we actually know about effectiveness of many interventions.
    • Appraisal is problematic -- what do you do about people who genetically will need constant medical care for their entire lives? If you have a car or a house like that, you just declare it a lemon and trash it, but that's generally seen as an unacceptable option with human beings.
    • There's an agency dilemma -- the person who has the most power to decide treatment is neither the person paying for it nor the person buying the insurance.
    • There's a "too big to fail" problem, in that generally a nation will be unwilling to watch people die if a major insurance company goes bust. (Watching people die because they're poor and uninsured is, for some reason, viewed completely differently.)

    And that's before you even get into the laundry list of problems that insurance adds to the situation, like the fact that it's more profitable to deny treatment, that it increases costs, and so on.

    So yeah, even if you're not an economist, you don't need to listen to many economics podcasts before you pick up the general principles and start to realize that insurance just can't solve the problem of providing healthcare.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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