If the AHCA Regulated Outdoor Equipment, We’d All Stay Home

No matter how you slice it, the AHCA is going to affect you in some way. Maybe not now, but if the GOP gets their way, it will someday. I hope you like camping without a tent.

If you read the coverage on the American Health Care Act, you begin to realize that both sides are basically talking about two completely different issues.

Right: It saves money! Saving money is good!

Left: The coverage will be crap! People will pay less to buy coverage they can’t use!

While I don’t argue that the government should just spend money unchecked, there’s really something insane going on here with the GOP’s position. Paul Ryan’s fundamental premise here is that people have the right to not buy health insurance, or to buy crappy insurance in order to save money. My argument is that the AHCA is a race to the bottom that will eventually leave every American who isn’t in the 1% completely screwed.

Let’s go shopping for some outdoor equipment, shall we? I want to buy a tent.

Under the Affordable Care Act, I have to pay more money for my tent. But the tent is required to hold certain components. It must have fabric and poles. Once constructed, it actually has to stay up, with reasonable protection against the wind. It doesn’t have to be a luxury tent like we read about in Harry Potter, but it does need to fulfill the functions of a tent.

Under the AHCA, my tent does not have to provide essentially anything, if the state I live in asks to be exempted from specific rules. I might buy a tent so I can go camping, only to realize that half the poles are missing and the fabric has a big hole in the ceiling. So, I technically have a tent, but it doesn’t fulfill the basic function of a tent. If I’m the average American, I don’t find this out until I go camping and have a really rough night under the, well, I hope it’s not tornadoes.

I can see where you are going with this. ‘I don’t like camping.’ Or perhaps, ‘I don’t need to go camping.’ Possibly even, ‘My job gave me a tent when I started working there, and I know it’s awesome.’

Yeah, this is where the vaguely creepy “someday” comes into play. You see, the GOP isn’t content to go after the individual insurance market. Eventually, at least some in Congress would like to see insurance uncoupled from employment. So while you might have comforted yourself with the assumption that you would always be able to get better employer-sponsored healthcare, that might not be the case for too terribly long.

And if you think that you’ll be treated better because you’re, I don’t know, inherently more awe-inspiring, you’re wrong there too. It may feel like this was merely a targeted attack on the poor and disabled (which is bad enough), but it’s just the first wave. If you feel confident that you’ve made it through, realize it’s only the beginning. The middle class is next. When your employer takes away your good tent and tells you to go to the store, where all you can find is lousy excuses for tents and tents that cost 10 times as much for even basic coverage, you might be singing a different tune.

The trouble is that most comparisons, including this one, don’t really work for healthcare. You can push off my camping analogy as not applying to you because of the subject matter, avoiding my actual point. Eventually, basically everyone needs healthcare. And you might not realize it until you open up that tent and realize that it is little more than a tarp in a hailstorm.

Claiming that Americans have the right to crappy insurance that doesn’t cover anything useful is not a way to save money. In fact, unless you can guarantee that you’ll be perfectly healthy for the rest of your life, it probably won’t even do that.

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