Over the last half century the non-STEM
academy has embraced postmodernism, which has as one of its premises the lack
of an objective "truth", that is, everyone has his or her own equally valid experiences, truths, and stories to tell. This philosophy, plus our embedded preference to listen to stories over other styles of communicating, is one reason why we are inundated with people telling their tales throughout the day. Narratives are fine for entertainment, but they're often a lousy way to set public policy. Nevertheless, that's the world we live in and the way decisions get made.
Over the past 20 years the debate over health care has raged, primarily driven by (true) stories about the rapacious behavior of insurance companies, and to a lesser extent drug companies and heartless hospitals. In 2009 the Democratic Party, which controlled the legislative and executive branches of government, birthed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," under which the Federal Government took control of the health care sector of the economy. No, the government does not technically "own" the health care sector, but through a combination of massive regulation, spending, and taxation the government controls it.
Now the horror stories are going the other way. They are so compelling that the Administration and its Obamacare supporters are finding it impossible to control the narrative. One example: stage-4 cancer patient Edie Sundby's story
of insurance cancellation because of Obamacare regulations:
Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.
But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market.
The narrative is lost, and in the postmodern world probably the battle is, too.
© 2013 Stephen Yuen