“Barack Obama is a lying sack of garbage.” That was the exact sentence that went through my head when I opened my mailbox and saw the following message from my health insurance company.
“If you like your plan, you can keep it.”
Actually, the exact sentence that went through my head when I saw this was a little earthier. I cleaned it up for publication.
I am now one of the millions who liked his plan and can’t keep it. But the astute reader will already have noticed the key word in my cancellation letter: “employer.” As in: the employer who provides my employer-provided health insurance. As in: the category of insurance that President Obama and his water carriers in the press absolutely assured us, as recently as a few days ago, we would not lose.
This is the next giant ObamaCare lie that is going to be exposed: the “5 percent lie.” This is the idea that “only” 5 percent of the health insurance market consists of individual plans that are likely to be canceled, whereas the “vast majority” of plans are provided by employers and won’t be canceled. Except that the administration’s own projections predicted that more than half of them will be. Like mine. And this was known and predicted for years ahead of time.
As a professional writer, I’m supposed to express my views in an impersonal style and keep a high-minded focus on big issues of political science. (If you want to see me do that, go here.) I’m certainly not supposed to call the president names. But it is important to understand the visceral reaction of those who are having their policies cancelled.
The strength of my own reaction took me by surprise, because I was never fooled by President Obama’s assurances. In 2009, before ObamaCare even passed, I wrote a piece which RealClearPolitics published under the headline, “You Will Lose Your Private Health Insurance.” So I have known for a long time that this moment was coming, and when I saw the inevitable stories of millions of people in the individual market having their plans canceled, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. So if I’m outraged after four years of preparation for this news, imagine how it will feel for those who weren’t expecting it.
Based on the experience of those who have already been canceled, I’m expecting—as I sit and await my fate—that I will see a significant increase in my insurance rates to provide for all of those benefits that I didn’t think I needed and which I am subsidizing for others. There’s a good chance I will have to find a few hundred more dollars every month (possibly many hundreds, to cover a family of four), so I will have to make a decision about what other expenses to cut out of my life. Perhaps I should pull my kids out of the private school where they are thriving and throw them onto the mercy of the public schools. There’s another plan I like that they don’t want me to keep.
Health insurance is a big and important part of people’s lives. Those of us who take the responsibility to provide for and protect our families have worked hard and made difficult decisions to ensure that they are covered. To have that ripped away arbitrarily—that is a political powder keg. If Democrats think things look bad for them now, we are just on the leading edge of a vast wave of ObamaCare outrage.
It will be made worse by the politicians and commentators who tell us that what we really had were “cut-rate” and “substandard” plans. Sez who? Do the commentators who spout this paternalistic blather know anything about me, my life, or my health insurance plan? Of course they don’t. They’re just repeating political spin.
I moved to my current plan because it was more generous than the individual plan I had before. Between the two of them, these “substandard” plans got my family through a serious car accident, complicated hand surgery, the birth of two children, and the inevitable doctor’s visits that followed. Or, since my own use of health insurance is relatively minor in the scheme of things, consider this lady’s “substandard” plan: “Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team.”
But no, we’re assured that we’re idiots who don’t know what we’re doing. And it gets worse. Millions of responsible Americans who work hard to pay their own way are also going to be lectured about how they’re leeches who want something for nothing.
To commentators on the left, I might offer a little bit of friendly advice: pull back from all of this condescending stuff about “substandard” plans. Making a mistake about health care policy can be excused, but repeated lying under the cover of smug paternalism is something that a lot of us aren’t going to forgive. But I’m not feeling in a friendly mood right now, so my response is: keep digging. The American people don’t quite hate you like poison yet, but keep going and they will.
Paternalism is never so offensive as when it’s peddled by people who act all high and mighty and tell other people they know what’s best for them, while demonstrating themselves to be sloppy, incompetent—and callous.
Consider the latest inside report on the disastrous launch of the ObamaCare website. It turns out that no one told President Obama or his senior aides that the website wasn’t working because, in the words of an ex-White House staffer, “People don’t like to tell him bad news. Part of it is the no-drama culture.” In this case, “no drama” actually means: it’s no skin off my nose. After all, did anyone at the White House get fired? What do they have to be dramatic about? We’re the ones who get the shaft, while the folks who ran this operation into the ground will “transition to the private sector” and feed at the trough in the massive Washington, D.C., boomtown of fat federal contracts.
That’s going to be the real root of ObamaCare rage. We have been bound and delivered into the hands of an elite who tells us to trust them because they know what’s good for us—and who actually have no clue and can’t be bothered to find out, because it doesn’t really matter to them either way.
But don’t just get angry. Learn the lessons of this debacle—and mobilize an irresistible movement to repeal ObamaCare. Tell the president that nobody likes his plan, and he can’t keep it.