If I Can Fake It There, I'll Fake It Anywhere

Professionals, artists and intellectuals in New York City, after years of struggling to obtain favorable terms from the health insurance industry,  now find their efforts negated by Obamacare.  Anemona Hartocollis relates the plight of the Big Apple's elite in the New York Times.

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market. ...

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage....

The predicament is similar to that of millions of Americans who discovered this fall that their existing policies were being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act. The crescendo of outrage led to Mr. Obama’s offer to restore their policies, though some states that have their own exchanges, like California and New York, have said they will not do so.

These developments have precipitated a mini-cultural crisis in this exclusive set. How could this happen to us?

“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

"Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney."

Had she but known? But she must have known. People at this level of talent must have suspected the reality from the first, though some part of their psychology prevented them from facing it. Unlike low-information voters, they can add. Simple arithmetic would have shown that from the beginning Obamacare, in order to work, needed access to a source of funds that would enable it to pay for the uninsurable or those unwilling to buy insurance.

Meinwald and her friends had those funds.

When Obama announced he was inviting people who could not or would not pay for healthcare to the feast, that necessarily meant the bill would have to be stretched over those with money in their pockets.  And the NYC elite made the cardinal mistake of having some jake in the first place. The fact that they were successful doomed them. It meant that their fund -- and all other well-managed enterprises -- would have to be raided to subsidize the failures.

This is called a transfer payment. This is called redistribution. You may want or not want it, but you cannot pretend that redistribution does not redistribute.

If Ms. Meinwald wanted to avoid getting slugged, her group should have imitated Detroit. When you're bust, you're off the hook. No stash, no tab. Or, as classic Marxian theory puts it, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  Of course the modern Democratic Party has rewritten the slogan slightly to "from each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed," but that's a mere detail; that's progress for you.

What Meinwald may get is intangible. She'll get first-class illusion. Illusion, Nathan Glazer once wrote, is sometimes a damned fine thing. Responding to Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's argument that humans are unequal in The Bell Curve, the Harvard sociologist argued in the New Republic that "some truths may not be worth knowing. Our society, our polity, our elites, according to Herrnstein and Murray, live with an untruth. I ask myself whether this untruth is not better for American society than the truth."