You probably assumed that if I wrote about Batkid I'd write a snarly and curmudgeonly post, and, well, I'm not going to disappoint you. But I'm not curmudgeonly about Batkid, the five-year-old with leukemia in remission who got to play Batman in San Francisco, with the help of the city government and a large number of volunteers, whose efforts help make the kid's fantasy amazingly elaborate. I'm curmudgeonly about a country that does things like this, and becomes captivated by things like this, at the same time it grumbles and moans about a certain percentage of Americans having to pay somewhat more for health insurance in order that other five-year-olds, some of whom have or may soon have equally dire medical conditions, can be guaranteed insurance coverage themselves.
Now, I realize that volunteering to help Batkid live out his dream was an act of generosity. I realize that a lot of people who clicked Batkid links on their computers at work also make donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other charities for sick kids and cancer sufferers. I see that 12-12-12, a film of last year's Hurricane Sandy charity concert, is opening this weekend, and I know that a lot of people gave a lot of money during the original broadcast of that concert.
So we're generous and compassionate and empathetic when we get entertainment value in return. Well, how about having a little empathy when no one is putting on a show for our amusement? Can we manage that?
I'm thinking about an email Josh Marshall posted yesterday -- just about when the Batkid story was unfolding. It was from a reader who's been buying insurance in the individual market, and who's probably going to have to pay more under Obamacare, which, he's been told, makes him an Obamacare "loser," a la recent complainants such as Dylan Ratigan and Lori Gottlieb:
... Having insurance, even crappy insurance, in the individual market means we are almost by definition, healthy and relatively young. If we were not, we wouldn't be able to get coverage of any kind in the non-group market. If our ACA-compliant replacement policy costs us more, it's likely because we’re too affluent to qualify for subsidies.Even when the Obamacare site is fixed, it's not going to provide free entertainment -- no Batkid, no Bon Jovi. Sorry if that's inadequate for you, if you've been a "winner" in the inividual market up till now. Sorry if just being part of a process by which America takes care of its own isn't enough for you.
It takes a remarkable degree of self-absorption and sense of self-entitlement to be healthy, young(ish) and affluent—and yet consider oneself a "loser." ...
I live in Louisiana where 400,000 working poor people will continue to go without health care because one man, Gov. Bobby Jindal, decided letting them have Medicaid wouldn't be good for his future ambitions. Those 400,000 are the losers. And while my healthcare.gov application has been stuck for a month now at the "View Eligibility Results" stage, where instead of my results I see a blank screen when I click the button, I know I will get better health insurance than the bare-bones individual policy I have now, even if I end up having to pick up the phone, or heaven forbid, send in paper. I will pay significantly more, but after years of being one serious illness from financial ruin, I will finally have security. And not only that; every time I pay my new premium, I am paying into a system that makes it possible for my fellow Americans who have not been as lucky as me --people who really have been losers pre-ACA -- to finally get affordable health care....