The New York Times has just released a poll of American attitudes toward the health insurance reforms pending in Congress. There’s a lot to be depressed about, but the worst might be this: 75% of respondents are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the cost of their health care will go up if no action is taken; but 77% have the same concern that costs will rise if action is taken. If those are completely independent probabilities, that means almost 58% of the country thinks health care costs will go up no matter what happens. (If, instead, we minimize the number of people who think costs will go up under both scenarios, it’s 52%, still a majority.)
Those numbers tell me that my fellow Americans are just scared, and they may not even know why. They’re faced, on the one hand, with an economic downturn in which it’s good news if we only lose a quarter-million jobs in a given month and health insurance is becoming more expensive and less meaningful by the day; and, on the other, with irresponsible idiots telling them that government health insurance means mandatory euthanasia for Grandma. The system is broken, and we’re terrified of the fix. And that terrifies me.