Paul Gordon is an Arizona doctor who decided to bicycle across America and chat with ordinary folks about Obamacare. It wasn’t pretty:
The outpouring of resentment and apparent lack of empathy disturbed Gordon at first. “Not a lot of generosity of spirit,” he noted glumly over the phone early in his trip.
….In Pennsylvania, a restaurant owner complained about her rising insurance bills and told Gordon she was sick of her insurance payments covering other people’s medical care.
In a small cafe in western Minnesota, a 64-year-old woman accused the law of spawning widespread abuse. “Obamacare encourages people to take advantage of the system,” she told Gordon.
Outside a convenience store in eastern South Dakota, another woman said — somewhat ashamedly — that everyone in town thought Obamacare and Obama were terrible. “He just gives all the taxpayers’ money away to poor people,” she said.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, how did we get here?’” a dispirited Gordon told me as he struggled to decipher the anger.
I don’t really have any comment to share about this. It’s just kind of sad. Gordon, however, is a remarkable guy who can apparently see lemonade everywhere he looks:
“I actually feel inspired,” he said at one point….Physicians have been reluctant to talk to patients about the healthcare system….But, he reasoned, physicians could do far more to guide their patients through the system and explain how it works. Armed with better information, perhaps Americans would base their opinions about health policy on more than the kind of emotional responses he heard across the country.
“We, as doctors, need to help people understand,” he said.
Good luck to him. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that all this resentment and anger isn’t based on ignorance of risk pools, medical cost ratios, and young invincibles. Better information isn’t likely to make much of a dent in this.