Friday, December 13, 2013

Schrodinger's Health Plan

Jonathan Chait:
One of the more amusing developments in the Obamacare debate has been watching conservatives turn from denouncing the health-care law for its lack of high-deductible insurance to denouncing the health-care law for its high-deductible insurance. I wrote a bit about it a week ago, and Ezra Klein describes it in much more detail today. Insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles were a major centerpiece of conservative health-care thinking. Until quite recently, conservatives seemed to believe that Obamacare prevented such plans from existing, which was totally false. As they’ve come into existence, conservatives have transitioned seamlessly into denouncing these plans for their horrible, high deductibles.

Episodes like this one have grown so familiar that they’ve lost all capacity to surprise. Conservative health-care-policy ideas reside in an uncertain state of quasi-existence. You can describe the policies in the abstract, sometimes even in detail, but any attempt to reproduce them in physical form will cause such proposals to disappear instantly. It’s not so much an issue of “hypocrisy,” as Klein frames it, as a deeper metaphysical question of whether conservative health-care policies actually exist.

The question should be posed to better-trained philosophical minds than my own. I would posit that conservative health-care policies do not exist in any real form. Call it the “Heritage Uncertainty Principle.”