Weekend Reading: Tom Levenson: Why I Hate The NY Times, Part n: "This paragraph [by Margot Sanger-Katz]...
...There is most likely a middle way. Republican lawmakers might be comfortable with a system that shifts more of the costs of care onto people who are sick, if it makes the average insurance plan less costly for the healthy. But making those choices would mean engaging in very real trade-offs, less simple than their talking point.
“Republican lawmakers might be comfortable…” Think of the assuptions not in evidence required to write that phrase. Think also of the cluelessness in what comes next: those who buy insurance are seen here in the Republican frame, as two binary populations, the healthy and the sick.
That would be the “virtuous” healthy paid less than the molly-coddled, feckless sick. That the same people might occupy both identities at different points of their lives seems not to have occured to this Times writer, Margot Sanger-Katz — whom I’ve noted before has an odd willingness to couch her Upshot explainers in weighted and coded language.
As seems to be hers and several Times-folk’s penchant, much of the story from which I extracted above is perfectly fine, an actual explainer of what Essential Health Benefits do and why they’re important. She even notes that in a system without a required benefit package–
…the meaning of “health insurance” can start to become a little murky.
Well, yeah, as it doesn’t actually insure against unanticipated risks. I’d take issue with the meekness of her critique here, that is, but at least she suggests to the fragile sensibilities of her tender readers that perhaps a minor problem might result here.
Which makes the passage I quoted up top both weird and revealing: cheap insurance for the healthy and soak-the-sick policies for those with the misfortune to suffer the ails that impinge on just about every human being, sometime or other is a pretty damn good example of a murky notion of health insurance.
That is: the habit of mind, the reflexive and seemingly unconscious acceptance of a right wing tropes that lead both to conclusions unsupported by the evidence and an inability to grasp what one has actually just said. This happens a lot at The New York Times. Happened a lot there too, over the crucial months of 2016. Which goes a long way, IMHO, to accounting for the predicament we’re in now.
Image: Codex Aureus Epternacensis, Christ Cleansing Ten Lepers, c. 1035-1040.