Why is it that our access to and pricing of food, clothing, car rides, home repairs, auto insurance, and every manner of digital service, have improved vastly in the last decade, while healthcare has become ever worse?
Joel Zinberg is the one who finally said it: Obamacare was the precipitating event that flipped undecided voters to Trump. It’s a surprising claim because it’s such a seemingly mundane topic compared with the swirl of apocryphal interpretations of the outcome.
But the significance of this issue is undeniable. The nation’s system of healthcare delivery experienced an accelerated dissolution during an election year, profoundly affecting the lives of everyone but the very rich. Even if you knew nothing else about the campaign or the candidates, you would have to predict that this would have major repercussions.
If you take away reliable access to health services, you fundamentally destabilize the quality of life itself.Hillary Clinton not only defended the existing system that most everyone in real life hates, she took credit for it in interviews before the campaign, pointing out that Obamacare was once called Hillarycare. At this point in the timeline, this was a bit like taking credit for the Zika virus. She behaved as if she were oblivious to problems while Trump promised repeal in speech after speech, ad after ad.
The word “healthcare” sounds like a wonky policy issue that is interesting only to pundits and professionals. But in real life, it is as important a subject as whether or not you have the money in the bank to pay the rent or put food on the table. It hits you right where you live, literally.
Life and Death
Everyone is aging. Everyone gets sick. Everyone needs to see the doctor from time to time. That requires some kind of stable system of healthcare delivery. This is right up there with food, clothing, and shelter. If you take away reliable access to health services, you fundamentally destabilize the quality of life itself.
That Obama and Clinton and the gang thought they could cobble together one system for the whole of America – using good intentions, tape, gum, mandates, and tons of government force, all with zero bipartisan cooperation – betrays an amazing arrogance. They have paid the price for it.
Five years ago or so, prior to the Affordable Care Act, we had an imperfect system, and the cost increases were getting out of control, particularly for drugs. Still, there was some predictability. But after Obamacare went into effect, the whole thing blew up in a state of chaos and uncertainty. People’s experiences with it differ depending on a huge range of issues. But generally, the result was disaster.
Last August, I wrote that this program might be the welfare state’s requiem. Everything went wrong from day one to the present. The worst of it – huge premium increases, collapsing insurers, clogged exchanges, soaring deductibles – all happened in an election year. Even in the week before the election, the announcement came that premiums would rise again, between 25% and 90% – a fact which Trump emphasized in every speech and in ads running all over the country.