Thank you, browser history. Reading up about the healthcare debate last week, I stumbled upon an entry on the topic in a mom’s blog entitled “Stop Screaming, I’m Driving.” Any blog whose author identifies first and only as a mother leaves me wary, thanks to STFU, Parents, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and began reading. It only took a few paragraphs to discover that this particular mother had nothing informative to say. I finished the article and moved on. Only later did I realize that, while the post had nothing useful to contribute to the debate on healthcare, it was highly interesting for the insight it lent about its author.
I have sometimes wondered why rank-and-file conservatives are against healthcare reform. Unlike pundits and politicians, they are not subject to the health insurance lobby. There’s the tax issue, but even forms of the healthcare bill that promised to cover their own costs haven’t met with much approval. Ordinary conservatives are unlikely to directly benefit much from healthcare reform, but it hardly seems likely that they’d be hurt by it. Why are they so vehemently opposed to it?
This blogger’s answer is edifying. She’s is terrified. Nail-bitingly, paralyzingly terrified. Listen to her thoughts at the doctor’s office:
Is that person feverish?
Does that one have a cough?
Is that one wearing a mask and if so, why?
Are we all going to die?
Her initial fears relate to the H1N1 flu, but soon she shifts gears and begins worrying about healthcare:
And for the first time, I’m a little scared.
I’m scared that even though we currently have great, super, awesome and fantastic coverage, that’s all going to change.
The incident that initially triggered this wave of fear was their pediatrician running out of seasonal flu vaccine. “Welcome to the public option,” said the pediatrician, oddly. The seasonal flu vaccine is in short supply because two vaccines needed to be made this year: regular and H1N1. Would the mother prefer that there be no H1N1 vaccine? Why (other than her pediatrician’s irresponsible statement) is she blaming the government? All her fears about healthcare are like this: nebulous accusations, sometimes based on partial or inaccurate information like the rumor that congresspeople “want to keep themselves ‘exempt’ from the current [plan] on the table*.” This is half the reason she opposes healthcare reform: because something bad might happen.
The other half of the reason is simple entitlement. She is pretty entitled overall–she resents the fact that her pediatrician “shares a space with the walk-in clinic,” thereby forcing her kids to share a waiting room with people who have the discourtesy to be sick in her presence–but most of her entitlement relates to her health coverage. She describes her current healthcare situation:
I’ve been shielded thus far from a generous health plan with low co-pays and prescription costs. We’ve had virtually everything paid for, every procedure, every test, everything. Our kids get seen as soon as needed and it’s never been a problem making sure that they receive the best care available…until now.
But, she wonders, what if that changes?
What happens when they can’t see my kids when it’s really needed? What happens when I need to go to the doctor and can’t get an appointment? What happens if my grandmother can’t get the protection she needs or my parents can’t get coverage after they retire?
Notice the lack of mention of anyone else’s family. I assure you, it isn’t present anywhere else in the original article, either. She believes that she deserves the good coverage she has, and that it would be unfair for it to be taken away or changed in any way that might create hitches in her thus-far-swimming experience at the doctor’s office. She doesn’t seem to realize or care that the questions she poses hypothetically above are daily realities for uninsured families. She has what she wants and she plans on keeping it.
Combining the two halves, this woman is motivated by fear of losing what she’s entitled to. It’s worth repeating: “I’m scared that even though we have great, super, awesome and fantastic coverage, that’s all going to change.” Essentially, she’s in a good position now and wants to keep it, because any change would be a change for the worse for her. Whether it might be better for other people isn’t relevant. She’s too busy being frightened that she might end up where they already are.
*This statement is not so much inaccurate as it is meaningless. Since no plan has required anyone to buy into the public option, the fact that congresspeople are not required to buy into it either is not some kind of special exemption.