September 19, 2013

Well, Generation Opportunity just did for Obamacare what Burger King’s years of commercials with “The King” did for fast food: the creepy, creepy ads won’t stop people from participating, but they’ll feature prominently in our nightmares for years to come.

I am still shuddering uncontrollably, but here are a couple of initial responses:

1) No matter what your preference is for the level of government involvement in your healthcare, the options on the table are not “keeping the government out of it” and “Obamacare.” As things are presently constituted, the government is fairly inextricably bound up with medical care. Taxpayers pay whenever someone without insurance goes to the emergency room. The federal treasury helps the elderly pay for healthcare with Medicare and the poor pay with Medicaid, the latter with state assistance. Not signing up for insurance, especially when you’re young and vigorous and exactly the demographic whose participation will help cross-subsidize the aged and unhealthy, does not translate to keeping the government out of your healthcare. It does drive up costs for the people who do choose to participate, though, and the failure of the healthy and young to join — some of whom lack a short-term financial incentive to participate in the program — could, some suggest, lead to a death spiral for the program and a big mess, which a lot of people, especially in Washington, seem to enjoy creating these days. But at least it won’t involve that Creepy Uncle Sam guy, so depending on your individual calculus this could still work out to a net plus.

2) I guess another concern implied by the ad’s creepy Uncle Sam figure is worry about giving the government access to your personal health data. The CMS has stated that the hub won’t store personally identifiable information, and officials are working on ensuring security, but really, if you’re chary about giving personal information to government data hubs, why are you living in the 21st century?

3) Then again, one of the strange things about this ad is that, compared to the ads urging you to get coverage, it’s actually… not the worst. Here is the worst one. (And the competition includes an ad where a woman is attacked by a raccoon.)

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.
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