Friday, March 26, 2010

Are they evil or not?

Obama is getting a bit confrontational about Republican talk of repealing the health care bill. Good for him. Republicans rarely know when and how to act like victors. Most Democrats don't really get that concept either.

"If they want to have that fight, we can have it," Obama told a university crowd in Iowa two days after putting his name on the most sweeping change in U.S. social policy in decades.

But I'm far more interested in this line:

"I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've been there already. We're not going back," he said.

If you haven't heard Obama rail against the insurance industry, you haven't been listening. But with all this talk, something occurs to me: If the insurance industry is so damn evil, why are we legally mandating the entire US population become their client? The insurance industry is still in the driver's seat. In exchange for a few restrictions that they'll just pass the cost on anyway, the insurance industry gets a far larger portion of perfectly healthy people who quite frankly don't need their product. Why do them such a huge favor if so they can't even be trusted to run their own operation?


Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Are they evil? Hardly, just profit motivated to the point of absurdity in a system with badly prioritized rewards and incentives. Some of their actions could be described as "evil," but I prefer to stay away from hyperbole.

What you describe explains the opposition to this plan from the left. But nobody listens to that when we can be talking death panels, dictatorships and secession. This was a far more exploitable rift, politically, that the GOP could have used to stop this bill. They preferred to put all Democrats into a corner.

The end policy is that celebrated "pragmatism," as we likely would be unable to get even a few reforms without concessions to the insurance industry. Single-payer, public-option, and national catastrophic were all off the table, leaving us with this.

Sausage making at its finest.

Thus my description of the policy trading one broken system we cannot afford for a slightly different broken system we cannot afford. But politically, Obama can get away with this because the other side refuses to really discuss it on these terms.

Dante said...

"Evil" is just the impression I get from the supporters of this plan. If anything, the insurance industry is the most pure example of profit motive ever created. They all have their niches, but they really don't care one way or the other as long as it makes them a profit. And even their niches are defined by the clientele they are trying to attract. The insurance companies who treat people poorly don't really care one way or the other. They're just taking a pre-calculated risk. Given their clientele, there's a certain level of BS they'll put up with. And they know that level well.

You're never going to one-up the insurance companies because whatever you come up with is just input for them to create their statistical models. And if they're all for this plan (which they seem to be), then it means there are far fewer people unable to get insurance but need it than there are people who don't have it because they just don't need it. Because you can't always trust an insurance company to take care of you but you can ALWAYS trust that their motives are profit-centered.

"What you describe explains the opposition to this plan from the left. But nobody listens to that when we can be talking death panels, dictatorships and secession."

Why should anyone listen? That opposition was willing to go along with the plan. "Better than nothing" is the specific sentiment I heard most often.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

When it comes to insurance companies, you and I are in complete agreement.

As far as the political miscalculation by the GOP: the option was this or nothing. When you give an opponent only one out, you can't act surprised when they take it.

DADvocate said...

It's a Democratic tactic dating at least back to FDR. Select a target for the people to hate. Make that target the enemy of the people no matter what is the truth and enough people will follow you out of hatred. Democrats specialize in demonizing and cultivating hatred towards corporations and the rich.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That's just politics 101, which sucks. It is easier to make people hate some nebulous outside force and make them want to tear it down than to build consensus to engage in constructive behavior.