Mindful Journalism

Greg Ip wrote a fascinating, extremely well-researched and only marginally biased article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Unstable Economics in Obama's Health Law." As a healthcare provider as well as an Affordable Care Act participant, I was sent this article because I have been researching possible solutions to the LOSE-LOSE-LOSE debacle that Obamacare has become.

Below is how Mister Ip's article appeared on the Internet. And let me ask you, "What is wrong with this picture?"

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What editor thought it would be a good idea to include a photo of a white doctor helping a sullen black patient (obviously a beneficiary of Obamacare and probably some other wasteful Democrat subsidies or "entitlement programs") in this article???

Just as Donald Trump displays the shadow side of xenophobic white America, The Wall Street Journal's choice of this particular photo with this article unconsciously displays what many Republicans think but seldom say (even David Duke doesn't publicly say it anymore): "We can't trust black people. They are lazy and when given the opportunity they will bilk the system. (They make marvelous singers, dancers, and athletes, but aside from their entertainment value, they are really quite a burden on society.)" That is what The Wall Street Journal tacitly told its readers when it decided to publish that particular photo with that particular article.

The Republican argument against Obamacare - with which Mister Ip closes his article - is not wrong. I am sorry to report that Obamacare, in its current incarnation, does function as a tax on the middle class to subsidize healthcare for the lower class. But when the white male CEOs of all of the major health insurance companies earn $10 million to $15 million dollars per year and their companies are leaving the healthcare exchanges because they are supposedly losing money, is it really the lower class citizens who are bilking the system?

Ip writes, "So how can the ACA be fixed? Democrats' solution is, essentially, more subsidies. Mr. Obama has called for a "public option," a federal health plan to supplement private insurers. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, goes even further: She wants anyone over 55 to be able to opt into Medicare. Both would nudge the U.S. closer to a 'single payer' model like Canada's that liberal activists have long sought. Yet this would require a lot more money and further erode market forces in health care." (FYI, just as "family values" is Republican code for anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage, "Canada" is Republican code for socialism.)

And here we see where Mister Ip is unequivocally misguided: "further erode market forces in health care." Market forces concern profits; healthcare concerns saving human lives.

What is the price of a human life, Mister Ip? If your son or daughter needed a million dollars worth of brain surgery this week to survive, I am sure you could pass the hat around to your fellow white co-workers at the Wall Street Journal and raise your $12,000 deductible or maximum out-of-pocket costs, but could the average minority in America do the same?

Maybe "market forces" - ie. profitability - are incompatible or inapplicable when saving people's lives? Unless, of course, you believe that only rich people's lives are worth saving because their wealth is merely a sign that god truly loves them (c.f. Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism").

Or maybe those Canadians aren't so dumb after all and have figured out how to provide better healthcare opportunities to a wider range of people and not just the anointed elite?

Our healthcare system is broken and articles with photos like the one above subconsciously perpetuate a myth that black people and minorities are the problem and those poor white CEO's earning $10-$15 million dollars per year are really trying their darnedest to make sure that the healthcare system is fair.

The situation is a LOSS for healthcare workers, a LOSS for most consumers, and a LOSS (allegedly) for Aetna, Blue Shield and most other insurance companies who are threatening to leave the exchanges because they are no longer earning enough money. Hey, nobody is intentionally trying to sabotage Obamacare and make the first black president look bad - right?

Instead of blaming President Obama and the Democrats or thinking that "misplaced risks" and inaccurate enrollment predictions are the problem, maybe some of those CEOs earning $10-$15 million dollars per year should stop whining about not making enough profits and start finding ways to help fellow human beings survive and thrive... maybe even human beings who aren't white.