TIME Health Care

Obamacare Disaster!

I just love it when I see neoconservatives pushing story angles like this one:

a new study from Express Scripts, the large pharmacy benefits-managing company, reveals something else that ought to depress those liberals throwing victory parties for the success of the misnamed Affordable Care Act: those signing up for ObamaCare appear to be older, sicker, and more dependent on expensive, specialty drugs than the average person covered by employer-based health insurance.

Two points:

1. This study, no doubt accurate, comes from a pharmacy-benefits company. And yes, of course, Obamacare has signed up a lot of people with dire medical conditions who will be filing a lot of expensive prescriptions. That’s the point of the exercise. But this study says absolutely nothing about the number of young people who signed up–if they signed up–who don’t have expensive prescriptions to fill. That’s the point of universal coverage: the healthy young help pay for the unhealthy elderly. This is a moral and civic duty. The young and healthy someday will be old and less healthy. (We don’t yet have any reliable indications of how many young people showed up.)

2. What sort of twisted mind could believe that taking care of the “older, sicker and more dependent” on expensive drugs is not a good thing? I’ve never bought that all this would cost less–though real reform of fee-for-service medicine would certainly help some. I’m in favor of universal coverage as a communitarian proposition: it is a social responsibility that we have. In most cases, these are hardworking people–those who don’t work get healthcare through Medicaid. I’d rather see my taxes go to helping those who are suffering than to subsidizing hedge-fund traders who pay Romney taxes.

But I wonder about all those salivating over Obamacare failures, real or imagined: Do they ever consider the actual human beings involved, the sum of human suffering diminished–or are they just interested in the political calculus? (Don’t worry, folks: I think I know the answer.)

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