The Corner

Obamacare and Human Nature

Obamacare was predicated on the idea that it would be techie-driven and noble in inspiration, and therefore, presto, just had to work. But the entire program, whether one likes it or not, assumes things that simply are contrary to human nature, and therefore, unless modified, will never offer the necessary incentives for Americans. It can only operate through increasing coercion.

If people can’t get online, why should they continue to try? (Sort of like calling a 1-800 fix-it number, getting put on hold by someone in India, and then swearing never to do that again.) Each time an administration official assures the public that the latest glitch is about fixed, and each time that it is not, a few more hundred thousand will give up.

And if, for many, the penalty is cheaper than the premium and the latter can be retroactively paid after a sickness, then why pay the cost upfront? If people can get a known Medicaid package free without too much scrutiny about the actual facts of their income and status, why would they prefer to pay for an unknown Obamacare plan?

If younger people feel both broke and invincible, why expect them to flock to pay for something that costs and that they won’t often use? If people don’t like premium hikes coupled with reduced coverage, why should they be won over by arguments that they should pay more money for more coverage of the sort they will never use? And if some are sick and need costly care and cannot obtain insurance or afford to pay the full cost of insurance for their conditions, why would they not rush to sign up even more rapidly than their antitheses would avoid signing up?

If a program is said to be both superior and universal in providing excellent coverage for all, why would there be any exemptions whatsoever for anyone, especially for those who support or even helped pass the legislation?

If insurance companies would go broke selling life insurance of a reasonable cost to those with preexisting conditions, or affordable car insurance to those with numerous citations, why would they not do the same with Obamacare?

If the program was passed through coercion, noble lies, and subterfuge, and ushered in with the same, why would anyone believe it will not operate in the same spirit and practice? Why should everyone who has insurance expect to believe that he was simply given it and that everyone who doesn’t was deprived of it, when millions made difficult and costly choices not to play the odds while at least a few million others in no different circumstances embraced different choices?

To counter all of the above, Obamacare would have to assume that it is hip, knows best, is not worried about Neanderthal human nature, and has the power to force what it wishes anyway—and there we have what we have.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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