Reframing the Debate, and A Personal Example

"If somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health-care costs over the next 10 years, that's guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit, I think most people would be opposed to that...That's what we have right now, so if we don't change, we can't expect a different result."

Barack Obama tried to reframe the debate last night. We’ve been stuck in a “Nash Equilibrium,” where (virtually) no one is overwhelmingly happy with the current system, but few are confident that a huge change will be personally beneficial. Therefore, it’s hard to make any progress toward change. Obama’s statement is supposed to help underline how unacceptable the current situation will become in subsequent years. This makes us compare health care reform with a dire future, rather than the present, which is pretty acceptable to most insured Americans and very acceptable to constituents within the health care system.

On another note, I’ve been impressed that the New York Times has fielded thoughtful and insightful reporters on health care in recent years. One of my favorite reporters is Gina Kolata, who wrote an excellent book on the 1918 influenza epidemic in 2000. Kolata has a memoir piece in today’s paper explaining why she chose to receive utterly unproven therapy for her running injury. Making even savvy patients into prudent consumers isn’t easy.