Obamacare coverage remains slanted

(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)
(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to figure out what Obamacare means for the future of the nation. Considering the recent flood of news about the new health care plan, one would think this would be an easy task. But after several days of research, I’ve come away with only a confusing jumble of opinions and very few facts.

This is largely a failure of the Obama administration and the mainstream media. They have not done enough to publicize the details of the plan. This has left the media to shape the public ideas and beliefs about Obamacare, and, as usual, the media is more interested in supporting a given political view than giving facts.

As far as the media is concerned, the right way to tackle the issue of Obamacare is to obnoxiously hyperventilate over it. To be fair, there are some problems that rightly deserve criticism. Yes, the Obamacare website isn’t working all that well, and, yes, the president really screwed up when he repeatedly promised everyone would get to keep their health insurance if they so choose; but these small bumps in the road do not give the mainstream media grounds to hysterically bemoan the future under these new laws.

If you do a quick Google search of any topic within Obamacare, you’ll likely encounter the media’s favorite technique of the past few weeks: cherry picking. That is, highlighting individual cases that support a particular position while ignoring many cases that could support a different position.

Do a quick Google search on Obamacare and cancer, for example, and you’ll find strong support for opposite views that ignore the evidence of the other. On one end, you’ll find the head of the American Cancer Society rejoicing under the belief that Obamacare will give everyone access to cancer treatment. On the other end, you’ll find heart-wrenching accounts of stage-four cancer patients blaming Obamacare for taking away their health insurance, and, in turn, their treatments and their lives.

Both are right to a certain extent, but neither side has made a concerted effort to listen to one another or understand the whole picture. According to healthcare.gov, Obamacare bans insurance companies from denying insurance to those with pre-existing conditions or putting limits on the amount of funds available to each customer over his or her lifetime. At the same time, insurance plans bought between 2010 and 2013 that do not meet the standards of Obamacare will be dropped. The question, therefore, is whether these dropped plans will be replaced with comparable or better plans. For the answer, we have to wait until the website is working, which must feel terrible to the people whose coverage was dropped.

This points to another reason why the public has been misinformed: we just might not know how the new laws will shape the future until we’ve settled into the new policies, which have data that we can analyze. Despite this uncertainty, the media has been quick to string together anecdotes to present a picture of the future under Obamacare in line with their political views.

American health care has just undergone major surgery. Like all post-op recoveries, there needs to be someone there to explain what was done during the operation and enough patience to wait for the results to become clear. For Obamacare, we have had neither of these things, and that needs to change. Obama needs to make a concerted effort to publicize a clear outline of the new policies, but we need to do our part in the process to have too: we need to have the patience to see how things will turn out.