Healthcare choice in America is a scam, according to the people who came up with it

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.

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What it's like to be uninsured

When I was in second grade, I got health insurance for the first time. I remember my parents—with looks on their faces somewhere between proud and relieved—telling me that it was now totally okay to fall out of a tree and break my arm. Frankly, that didn't sound like much fun, so I never took my parents up on the offer.

It's only years later, as an adult, that I really understand the significance of that event. I honestly have no idea how my parents paid for the regular preventative check-up appointments I remember going to. I have no idea how they paid for the time I smashed my finger between the hinges of a door and ended up in the hospital. The fact that those things happened, at a time when we had very, very little money and no insurance, gives me a little bit of a retroactive sense of budget vertigo. Did my parents lose sleep over this stuff? In all likelihood, yes. It's a wonder I was allowed to climb trees at all.

Since I was a kid, the costs of healthcare—and the cost of insurance—have increased dramatically. And that's widened the gap that people fall into, when they make too much for Medicaid, but can't afford insurance. When I was uninsured, my mother was a home daycare provider and my father was a bartender. Today, it's perfectly possible to have a Ph.D., have a decently paying professional job, and still have to make some terrifying budgetary decisions that leave you and your children without health insurance. Read the rest