After Criticizing Capitalism For Using Advertising to Trick Consumers into Bad Deals, Progressives Try to Use the Same Tactic for Obamacare

From our favorite politically-blinkered economist who used to be smart:

Chait stresses the youth aspect:

Fortunately for Obama, this field of battle favors his side. To pass the law, he needed to win over skeptical senators. To defend it in court, he needed conservative jurists. But identifying and persuading young people is a battle Obama does not expect to lose to Republicans, and in place of the federal outreach funds, the administration is deploying a campaignlike array of weapons: microtargeting, including door-to-door outreach, and all forms of media. (A few weeks ago, Katy Perry tweeted out a link informing her 42 million followers that health care was available beginning October 1.)

Yep, when it comes to reaching hipsters, or young people in general — I know, Katy Perry — Dems have big advantages; all that coastal cultural elite hatred suddenly turns into a big disadvantage for the right.

A couple of thoughts:

  • Katy Perry is part of the cultural elite?  We have sure dumbed down that concept.
  • As to Ms. Perry, whose music is actually a guilty pleasure of mine, health care has been available to your twitter followers all their lives, not just beginning October 1.  A better way to put this is that, as of October 1 you will be forced to buy some amount of health care whether you want it or not.  
  • The whole campaign aimed at young people is simply obscene.  I understand that folks like Ms. Perry honestly believe that young people are getting a better deal, and that she is doing them a service.  Fine, millionaires can be low information voters too.  But people in the Administration have a much more cynical purpose, which explains the magnitude of the campaign described by Chait:  For Obamacare to work and not be a fiscal disaster, it depends on young people overpaying for health insurance.  The Administration knows that young people are overpaying -- the whole system depends on it -- and yet they are telling them it is in their interest to sign up.   A private company that did this would be in jail.
  • I think this whole campaign is going to fail due to a basic fallacy of Progressive thinking.  Progressives are convinced that consumers are helpless dupes of advertising.  They in fact criticized health care advertising expenses in the private world for years for this reason, making this whole campaign incredibly ironic.  Obama and company are convinced that with enough advertising, average consumers will buy anything, even if it is a bad deal, because they are convinced that this is how consumer capitalism works (it got him elected, didn't it?)  I think they are going to be disappointed.


  1. Another_Brian:

    What's been amazing to me is that, in every bit of publicity coverage for this, from local news to NPR, they come right out and say "We need young healthy people in the system so we can afford to cover all of the sick, unhealthy people." They repeat it so often I have to believe it's written down as one of the bullet points the publicists are supposed to be talking about and explaining. I had not expected them to be so honest about their motivations.

  2. mahtso:

    "A better way to put this is that, as of October 1 you will be forced to buy some amount of health care whether you want it or not."
    This is not accurate; what you must buy is health insurance. Whether that insurance will cover your health care is an open question, but based on Medicaid, Medicare, and the VA, it is hard for me to believe that it will cover all of the purchaser’s health care.

  3. Duvane:

    "Obama and company are convinced that with enough advertising, average consumers will buy anything... I think they are going to be disappointed." Would you bet all the dollar coins in your pocket? :-)

  4. Dale:

    I really like your blog, but I’ve started to get
    the following message every time I click on your web page, “Do you want to open
    or save analytics.js from”.
    When I looked it up I found that it’s a JavaScritp snippet that you
    apparently pasted into your website template page for tracking purposes

    I have not Opened or Saved it yet but have just
    been hitting Cancel because I would like to know what happens after I do Open
    it. Will this stop me from getting this
    popup? Is this what you intended?


  5. mesaeconoguy:

    Add to this Socialist Insecurity/Mediscare/Medicaid, which are enormous wealth transfers from the young to “the old” (henceforth, in the spirit of leftist interest group anti-business lingo [Big Oil, Big Banking, etc.] known as “Big Old Fart” ™ )

    Big Old Fart ™ (AARP) is an extremely powerful interest group.

  6. marque2:

    Interesting the stat site shows that I am viewing from Houston Texas on road runner, (I am Time Warner in Austin right now) just saw that there is someone visiting from guam, Canberra Australia as well! Normally I would show somewhere in California, but I am on a contract job in Texas right now.

  7. Gil:

    How else are old people supposed to cared for?

  8. marque2:

    Yes there are several statistics links on the lower right of the page, if you click on the large number 6million plus you get the sitemeter stats. There is also a feedburner link which shows almost 800 people have viewed this page so far. They just provide stats about this web page. If you are having issues you might have a problem with your browser. I do see the javascript in the page. I wonder if it is trying to place a cookie or something and you have those blocked.

  9. marque2:

    Old people are the richest demographic in the US, young people in their 20's are by far the poorest. Why would you force the poor, to pay for the needs of the rich? What backward society is that?

    Why do Democrats hate the poor so much?

  10. mesaeconoguy:

    Gil, you obtuse vole, perhaps by saving their own money, and paying for (most of) their own care...?

  11. Matthew Slyfield:

    That's what family is for. Do you intend to dump your parents off on complete strangers when they need your support?

  12. Matthew Slyfield:

    Sure, I'll bet all the dollar coins in my pocket.

    P.S. My pockets are empty.


  13. Harry:

    Speaking of advertising, I have often gotten an involuntary advertisement on the Weather Channel, Twitter, and elsewhere, how Obama specifically, being the Mahdi, will reduce my house payment. Generalissimo Franco or Mussolini will make you happy by giving you a coupon to buy six ounces each of red and yellow tomatoes. Such kindness, and more empathy.

    The good news for the people, when ObamaCare was passed, was that your employer had to cover your two twenty something boys living with you as they played Angry Birds in their rooms and looked for gigs playing drummer at weddings. The bad news is that your husband's employer has been freed to discontinue spousal coverage, and has told him to go to the Exchange, where he will get full benefits for his sex change operation. The kids are now on their own, and may qualify for Snap food stamp cards, Medicaid, disability and unemployment benefits, and whatever else they are entitled to as a British citizen. Your wife is going to the Exchange, too, and she will be enchanted by Kathleen Sibelius calculating her life expectancy and knitting her future into her grisly record.

    Tell me, Coyote, if this is not great, what is?

  14. Harry:

    Sorry, Coyote, I shifted the point of view there, between the husband and wife . Both get screwed , though, and not by each other. By Hardy Reid? Hard to imagine that.

  15. Mark Alger:

    ^^THIS^^ Plus, it should be noted that, in the current state of the market, most providers will give you a DEEP discount if you pay cash for services. My PCP discounts 40%+.

  16. mlhouse:

    The Republican strategy needs to be to tie delaying the individual mandate to increasing the debt limit, and also legislatively delaying the employer mandate rather than the extra-constitutional delay that is in place now. When you cannot win a fight, the only positive strategy left is to delay the fight in the hopes that the next time the battle is presented you have a chance to win.

    Killing the employer mandate should be the most important objective of the GOP. The liberals want to pretend that there is a free lunch out there. But nothing is free. Employers like my company look at total compensation. If one component of compensation e.g. ObamaCare health care costs/fines goes up other parts of compensation are going to go down e.g. fewer hours, lower wages, delayed raises, reduction or elimination of other benefits, and loss of employment. Only fools with their heads in the sand, as demonstrated by Obama's recent speech on health care believe otherwise.

    In place, the Republicans should propose the following:

    1. On the 1040 and other tax forms, there should be an explicit line that allows a tax payer to pay more money in taxes that will be used directly for health care costs. Force the Democrats to put their money where their mouths are. When virtually no one chooses to pay this extra tax voluntarily the whole lie will be exposed.

    2. Change the individual mandate. I totally support the individual mandate and it is actually a conservative concept. Insurance works with pooling and individuals should not be allowed to escape being part of the pool. Too many people do not pay into the pool, but in the end expect to receive the benefits of 3rd parties paying for their health care. The change that must be made, however, is that the mandate should be a minima, not the bureaucratic maxima of the fantasy liberal dream. Everyone should be forced to buy at least a high-deductible plan that will cover their high end health care needs in a catastrophe. For individuals that truly are impoversihed, the government can subsidize premiums and deductibles. This would solve the problem of the "uninsured", which really is the fact that other people cover their high end health care costs and they avoid all costs.

    3. Move away from employer provided health care. Two of the main problems that ObamaCare is supposed to solve is "pre-existing conditions" and "portability". But these are really just manifestations of the fact that most individuals are covered by health care plans paid by their employers. Change or lose a job, and you do not have insurance. If you have a pre-existing condition then you will be almost impossible to hire or cover. Instead, each individual and family should purchase their own insurance plan independent of their employer. The government should insure that as long as the premiums are paid that the insurance company cannot be drop coverage and must live up to the contract (insurance pools are worthless if the pool can dump you just because you are the unlucky one to get sick/injured/die). And, the government should allow the creation of a national market that could involve literally hundreds of health insurance products with a wide array of potential coverage (not 3).

    4. For individuals that do have "pre-existing" conditions, there needs to be the possibility of reinsurance. Essentially the individual would be covered under "regular" insurance for all health care other than their pre-existing condition. Then, a second policy, potentially highly subsidized by the government, would cover the costs associated with their condition. For example, a person with asthma would be eligible to get a normal health policy that would insure them agaisnt broken limbs, cancer, and any other disease/illness/accident unrelated to asthma with the medical cost associated with the asthma being covered by a 2nd.

    5. For impoverished indivuduals under our welfare system, we should create age-specific vouchers for certain preventative procedures. For example, a 4 year old should receive a voucher for certain immunizations and a 50 year old woman should receive a voucher for a mammogram. In fact, I would make their future welfare benefits contingent on their following these plans. I do not necessarily believe that "preventative medicine" will necessarily save money, but their would be some cost savings as certain cancers and illnesses are discovered when they can be treated much more inexpensively and it is possible that in certain cases getting medical advice on bad health habits and mental illness could vastly improve quality of life.

  17. sean2829:

    Today's young adults are the being played for the biggest patsies when it comes to healthcare. Not only will they pay double for insurance to mitigate the costs of the boomers, they are likely much more in debt for their college education because state support for higher education got diverted to Medicaid. (And many college educated young adults will make too much money for government support.) Not to worry, their elders have a solution. To cut future costs, the youngsters retirement benefits will be changed to a define contribution system and they'll have to pony up out of their own pocket for that too while the boomer's defined benefit packages are grandfathered and guaranteed by taxes.

  18. Dan:

    A few months ago I inputted my age and gender into a web cost calculator for health insurance premiums under Obamacare. it spit out a number close to twice what I pay now as a retiree with COBRA package that will take me to age 65. Now that my state (MN) has got its exchange website up I repeated the experiment and the result was only half of what I pay now.....unless I happened to live in the very next county, which is in a different geographical region. For some reason that would cost my than twice what my county costs and about $70 more than what I pay now. This is going to make some people very resentful if the numbers are accurate. My belief is that the listed rates are analogous to the teaser rates offered by satellite TV and others: they are lowballed the first year and skyrocket thereafter. I'll play the game and buy the teaser rate because I've only got 23 months until I'm forced into Medicare. But what about all the other poor saps who see their rates double and triple as young people respond to incentives by not buying insurance they don't need?

  19. Rick C:

    This is actually some kind of bug by sitemeter--blogs all over the place are doing this the last few days. Either Coyote needs to (maybe temporarily) disable Sitemeter, or Sitemeter needs to fix their problem.

  20. marque2:

    I have just noticed the problem. Seems to be with older versions of Interet Explorer. I would upgrade to the lastest - or - what the heck are you doing still using Internet Explorer anyway. Download Chrome or Firefox. I guess it can be annoying at work where you are not allowed to use anything else..