"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Next Shoe to Drop for Obamacare... and the Next... and the Next...

Karl at Hot Air has a very useful article up about the next few shoes to drop on the unfolding Obamacare debacle.   The upshot:  the website rollout is the least of Obama's worries.

Here's my list, riffing off Karl's, but with some added TRG  secret sauce:

  • Identity theft - What happens when scary news stories start appearing about people who have had their identities stolen by Obamacare "navigators"?   Given what we know already, would you just start uploading your most private financial and medical information to healthcare.gov?  Let me tell you -- the soccer moms who will drive this debate have been scared for ten years (sometimes unnecessarily and for profit) by the boogeyman of identity theft.   They are going to run for the hills if it looks like Obamacare puts them at risk.
  • Costs explode - What happens when millions of Americans start realizing that they've essentially been taxed at a confiscatory rate (through the hidden tax of higher health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays) to buy health insurance for other people they don't know?   What happens when people realize that they won't be able to buy their kids braces, or send them to Catholic school, or save for their college, or afford their piano lessons, or dance lessons, or summer camps?   It's one thing to be altruistic in the abstract -- everyone should have health insurance.   It's another thing to be altruistic in the concrete -- I should pay for Joe Blow on 27th Street to have health insurance by giving up my family vacation, or my kid's school, or the new kitchen we've been wanting for ten years.   In other words, this is the moment when the passive voice of desires ("people should be given health insurance") turns into the active voice of reality ("I must pay for other people's health insurance").   Again, the soccer moms who will drive this debate in the end care a lot more about their own kids than they do about someone else's kids.   That's natural, and that's reality.
  • People lose their doctors - What happens when healthcare networks to shave costs start limiting the different doctors you can go to for treatment, and one of the doctors happens to be your doctor?   Again, if the soccer moms start realizing that they no longer can go to the OB-GYN they've been going to for fifteen years through two or three children, they are going to have mass conniption fits.
  • The employer mandate kicks in, and employer-based insurance becomes a thing of the past.   This is going to happen.   If you were an employer, why wouldn't you immediately dump your plans and tell your employees, so, sorry, we just can't afford this anymore, but instead we'll give you a modest raise and you can look for coverage on healthcare.gov.   If you're an employer struggling to make your margins, you're going to do this.   In fact, if you didn't do it, you'd likely be breaching your fiduciary duties to your shareholders.
  • People die.   Remember the old saw from journalism, "if it bleeds, it leads"?   Journalists are lefties, sure, for the most part, but they are also careerists, and someone is going to smell a Pulitzer in the story line that some aspect of Obamacare -- either kicking people off their coverage, or making them lose their doctor, or some other hidden limitation in the umpteen thousand pages of laws and regulations and rules means they don't get treatment X or drug Y -- caused someone to die.   It will happen.   And when it does, people will go nuts.  

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