Monday, June 26, 2017

The New Health Insurance Bill

Many of us were exasperated by the right's willful incomprehension during the Obamacare debate. Their over-simplified and ignorant objections were expressed via ridiculous hyperbolic slogans designed to shamelessly rile up their base. "Death panels!" and all that b.s....

So what about this new healthcare bill? It's an abomination, right? You know for a fact that it will leave huge numbers uninsured, and "millions will die" (TM)?

If so, how do you know this? Did you read the bill (I sure didn't)? And are you expert in the arcane details of health policy (lord knows I'm not)? If not, then where does that certainty stem from? The answer, as always in recent American politics, is a potent cocktail of confirmation bias and tribalism.

Let me ask you this: if a nerdy, well-respected conservative health insurance wonk (who earnestly wants to see people well-covered, and doesn't just want to apply a wrecking ball to all things good and just) believed the new bill was an absolute gem, and questions the assumptions behind the CBO's projection of millions of uninsured, and thinks the pools will be made diverse even without a mandate compelling healthy people to buy insurance (so it's not just expensive sick people), would you want to entertain his thoughts? Even if it requires effort, because this stuff is complicated, while the hyperbolic slogans go down a lot easier? Is it possible we've been guilty of the same ignorance, over-simplification, and crazy doom peddling ala anti-Obamacare "death panel" hysteria?

Me? I'm very skeptical of the bill. But I refuse to mindlessly parrot the outrage, because I'm not so Dunning–Krugered up to imagine I understand this realm of policy and can know for certain how this will play out. And I'm not confirmation-biased up to the point where I trust the people screaming on my teevee set. And I'm nowhere near tribal enough to trust the mob parroting the people screaming on my teevee set.

The bill may be an abomination...or it may be "the greatest policy achievement by a GOP Congress in my lifetime," as Avik Roy claims (same link as above). But if you're waving pitchforks after heeding only one set of experts - your tribal elders - what's the difference between you and the pro-Tumpers in their Foxbart bubble?

More from Avik Roy (who I don't find likable, and whose assumptions I don't often share): his Twitter feed, and a recent podcast debate.

If you intend to leave a rage-filled comment, please first verify that you've personally read the bill. Calm opinions, however uninformed, are always welcome, but borrowed, rebroadcasted* outrage is a disease, and I'm highly resistant.

* - When I was in fourth grade there was a presidential election, and my classmates mindlessly parroted their parent's political views. We were too young to understand any issues, but everyone was totally wound up and sanctimonious. I grokked what was happening, but what I didn't understand was that our parents, themselves, were parroting.

It's all entirely tribal. It's always been entirely tribal. Actual policy barely even matters - look how the right effortlessly flipped to champion a candidate who campaigned with a profoundly non-conservative nationalist/populist agenda! It's not about policy, it's about tribal grievance. We obediently parrot our tribal leaders, be they parents, TV pundits, writers, etc., delighting in the pre-masticated, ridiculously simplified talking points with which they inoculate us. Both sides (and me, too) are poorly informed, but willful in our ignorance and unwavering in our intellectual self-confidence.


Peter Cucè said...

I appreciate your thought process on this, but the CBO analysis is non-partisan and unequivocal. This bill is bad.

Here is just one video that summarizes it quite well.

Jim Leff said...

But that's Roy's point. CBO bakes in assumption that no mandate = only sick people in pools, but other incentive structures are included for healthy people to buy in. Understand I'm not agreeing with him. Just saying there's another side to the story.

Listen to his latest here:

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