One of the most frustratingly incredible things about Corporate PR Con Artistry is that even when the chaos magicians behind it reveal their tricks, there are still people who will continue to insist that somehow, this makes the lie even more real. We've seen it before with climate change, and the bullshit connection between vaccines and autism.
And now, in a new op-ed from The New York Times, we can see this phenomenon happening in real-time with healthcare. Most rational-thinking people understand that the private healthcare system in America offers no more "choice" than the socialized, single-payer, or other government-subsidized systems in other developed nations. Yet that idea of "choice" — and the fantastical fear-mongering about wait times in Canada — has become a popular talking point with those opposed to healthcare reform. Which is precisely what it was designed to do, by people like Wendell Potter, a former vice president for corporate communications at Cigna. As he writes in the Times:
To my everlasting regret, I played a hand in devising this deceptive talking point about choice when I worked in various communications roles for a leading health insurer between 1993 and 2008, ultimately serving as vice president for corporate communications.
Those of us who held senior positions for the big insurers knew that one of the huge vulnerabilities of the system is its lack of choice. In the current system, Americans cannot, in fact, pick their own doctors, specialists or hospitals — at least, not without incurring huge "out of network" bills.
But some reforms being discussed this election, such as "Medicare for all," would provide these basic freedoms to users. In other words, the proposed reforms offer more choice than the status quo, not less.
As evidenced by that last quote, Wendell has since seen the light (or some sort of brightness, anyway), and now serves as the president of Business for Medicare for All and Medicare for All NOW! Unfortunately, there are still some people who will refuse to believe this magician revealing the secrets behind their own trick.
How the Health Insurance Industry (and I) Invented the 'Choice' Talking Point [Wendell Potter / The New York Times]
Image via 401K 2012 / Flickr