"...health reform would allow for them to receive preventive care services without having to pay anything... Health reform starts at birth -- health plans will no longer be able to refuse to cover children younger than 19 simply because they were born with a medical condition... adults and seniors will no longer have cost-sharing provisions for preventive services... Together this all adds up to more patient protections than we have ever had, and this is just the beginning."
-Kavita Patel, "Will health reform be repealed?", CNN.com
Parents the world over know the magic of McDonald's Happy Meals. There's something about the promise of a Happy Meal - the way it's packaged, the free toy - young families and especially kids find them irresistible. But anyone who's purchased one of these knows the reality: that toys within the Happy Meal are typically played with for no more than three minutes and the plastic tchotchkes are discarded faster than the accompanying 2% milk.
And yet, despite the fact that the toy is worthless, kids clamor for the Happy Meal again and again. It's human psychology - we simply can't help ourselves. Hope springs eternal that next time the next Happy Meal will contain a better, more stimulating toy. It's the possibility of the unseen, the thrill of victory, something for nothing, and all with the word "free" attached that causes us to gravitate to these types of things time and again with no learning curve.
A distinctly American Way.
This, of course, is nothing new to marketers. But this promise has become the linch-pin of Obamacare spin from its inception. If it's free, do we care what it really costs? If it's free, do we care what the quality is? If it's free, do we care what the data about the utility of the test is? If it's free, do we care how the results are delivered?
Of course we do.
When the results come back and we're clutching the phone hoping to hear a familiar voice when none is there - that will be our new reality - but we're not pitching reality. Or costs.
There's a common sense saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true." Even if we find that the $19.99 infomercial slicer/dicer doesn't work at home as it did on television, American's love the psychological reassurance that this time the government will make health care available to all without restriction, expense, or consequence, be they boys or girls, legal or illegal, young or old, right-handed or left-handed, with preexisting condition or not, - no one will be left behind in our new omnipotent era of Patient Protection and Affordability.
We should all know better, but the sad fact is, we're all suckers.
Not that some of the promises made wouldn't be useful, helpful, or even critical to many families. But to position health care reform (and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in particular) as a win-win with no hard choices, no limits to health care for our seniors, no future commoditization of medicine, unlimited access to procedures and doctors, and all with no enormous financial cost, is to stick one's head in the sand.
Package it, spin it, wrap it in plastic - then put it next to a cheeseburger.
No matter what you call it, it's still Hopium.
Reference: Images courtesy of 'A Bite to Eat,' Craftster.org