30 October 2013

Use the Power of Language, Part III

Well, Rhino-sized, anyway.
Apparently on Tuesday, the Senate Democrats decided to take the “SQUIRREL” of the poorly- or non-functioning HealthCare.gov site and inflate it to elephant proportions, to distract us from the story of millions of individual medical insurance policyholders having their policies cancelled because they do not meet the requirements of “Obamacare”, and this phenomenon being known to the Obama administration as early as 2010. This led to a whole bunch of tweets (on Twitter) that continually irritated me, because opponents of this law were using language promoted by proponents of it, rather than words that accurately describe what we’re talking about.

I sent out a few tweets about it, and I’ve decided to repeat and expand on those here.
  1. The law that has been dubbed “Obamacare” is not the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA). It is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA). Please don’t forget both empty promises when writing or tweeting about it.
  2. What the law requires individuals to buy is not a “health plan”. It is a medical insurance policy.
    A health plan is a course of action intended to promote and maintain the health of an individual, created by that individual usually in cooperation with physicians and other advisors.
    A medical insurance policy is a contract wherein the buyer pays a premium in consideration of the risk that the insured will incur expenses due to certain treatments, which the insurance company will bear at least most of the cost of.
    The health coverage required by the PPACA is not so much a medical insurance policy as a pre-payment contract for scheduled services. Actually, many employer-sponsored “health insurance plans” are also that–especially the HMO type.
  3. The arrangement where all medical services are provided by the State is not “single payer”. It is an “everybody pays” arrangement. Except, of course, for those who do not pay in to the system. People who receive benefits paid for only by other people are called “Free Riders”.
    (In my tweet, I mistakenly attributed my awareness of this term to The Czar of Muscovy, of the Antient and Noble Order of the Gormogons. It was actually this entertaining and informative post by GhettoPuter. I apologize to ’Puter–and as appropriate, to the Czar–for this error.)
    Considering what employer-sponsored group health plans have become, each one is a sort of micro-everybody-pays system. Not so bad, as long as they are voluntary. But what if participation were mandatory, and everyone were forced to pay for everyone else’s pre-existing conditions and routine personal maintenance, like contraception? Welcome to the PPACA.
Addendum: I also saw some video and quotes from Barack Obama being shared where he said that nothing in this law will force people out of their current policies, with the claim that he was lying. Technically, though, it appears that his claims may be true; it was the rules and regulations written by the Department of Health and Human Services that forced insurers to cancel those policies, rather than having them grandfathered in as acceptable. However, this is just another case of lawyer-ese, saying something that is technically true, while knowing the end result will be different.