On Wednesday CNN was playing at the beauty shop were I have my nails done, and the Supreme Court case was the topic of conversation for the talking heads. When asked my opinion I said I would rather my country provide the same level of health care that most other industrialized nations do.
The response, as expected, was "Yeah, but they pay a heavy burden in taxes for that care."
So I asked her what she paid for health insurance. A bare bones policy with high deductibles and co-pays for herself and her husband was $500 a month.
So think, I told her, you pay $6,000 a year for health care. Someone in Sweden may pay higher taxes, but gets to keep the $6000 that you are paying a private insurer, and gets complete coverage. Do you really think that higher taxes are that great a burden compared to what you are paying?
Before the conversation moved on to the good gossip that is the stock and trade of any decent hair salon, we talked about excessive CEO salaries, dividend payments and the concerns of Wall Street that dictate how insurance companies operate. And I could tell that simple terms made it clear to her that not only does every other industrialized nation pay less per capita for medical care, by at least half, they get much better outcomes for their money.
I live in a small town, home to a National Park and the nation's largest Marine Corps base. It leans so far to the right that it has pretty much lost its balance as shown in the weekly newspaper's LTEs. They are rarely even coherent.
At the beauty salon where I have been going for at least a dozen years, I have a reputation as someone who is politically aware. So when I walked in yesterday, I was approached by three different stylists who wanted to talk about the SCOTUS ruling on health care.
The first comment was from the woman who was actually cutting my hair,
"My friend, G___, who knows all about these things, told me that what it means is that the government will now decide who is good enough to receive health care and who won't be allowed to get any. It will be just as bad as Canada and we will have to wait forever to get the care we need."
I just laughed and said that I wished it were like Canada's system. I explained that Canadians received necessary health care in a timely manner, but sometimes had to wait in line for elective procedures. That most Canadians love their system of healthcare.
Then I told her of the studies that had been done showing those who watch Fox News know less about current events than those who watch any other coverage. And that the latest study showed that people who watch Fox news know less about what is really going on then folks who watch no news at all (which describes my sylist).
Her response, "How did you know she watches Fox news?"
The next one to express an opinion was a mainstream liberal who is also a fairly low information voter (hard to get your head around that one, I know.)
According to her, the ruling means that we now have Medicare for all.
When I told that no, Medicare had not been expanded to cover everyone, but everyone will now be required to buy health insurance from a private insurance company, she looked at me very suspiciously and said, "No, I pay attention to this stuff, and we're supposed to get insurance companies out of the picture entirely."
I don't think I convinced her but then I didn't really try that hard. She was sure that if the Court had struck down the healthcare act that Obama would have been defeated in November and she wants to see him re-elected.
And finally, my manicurist came over to tell me she had relayed our conversation to her husband who thought about it and suggested that she had a pretty smart client. We both laughed at that line, but the truth was that neither of them ever thought about how much money they are paying to line the pockets of the 1%.
We absolutely have got to do a better job of messaging on health care.
I know it is hard since so much of the Act still needs to be implemented. But when even those who support us don't understand what it all means, we have a lot of work to do. We need to allay the fears of those who think health care will be rationed. We need to make sure that those who think they will have a free ride understand exactly what the limits are.
The more people understand Obamacare, the more they want it. And even the conservatives, when presented with the cost analysis, realize that single payer could mean fewer dollars out of their pockets. And better access to health care for themselves and others.