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Flying Pigs: The Problem with Obamacare

By January 2, 2014 2 Comments

The New York Times recently ran an Op-Ed piece by Michael Moore on the topic of Obamacare. True to form, Moore’s piece makes both conservatives and liberals unhappy. On the one hand he refers to Obamacare as an abysmal failure, not because of the birth control mandate or big government, but because it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, Moore argues that Obamacare is a republican rip off–a dressed up version of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. The problem with this approach is not that it’s republican, the problem is that it doesn’t address the fundamental issue: the cost of health care. The Affordable Care Act is not a health care reform bill, it is an insurance reform bill. Moore concedes that, as far as it goes, the bill makes some improvements. People who could not get health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or people who were in danger of being dropped from coverage, are guaranteed coverage. That’s a good thing. The problem, however, is that the cost of health care, and the cost of health insurance, is not addressed. Yes, I know the economics of Obamacare intends to lower the cost of premiums by forcing younger Americans to sign up for basic forms of coverage. These are the same “younger” Americans who are saddled with College debt, living in the parents basement, and working low paying jobs. The numbers, thus far, are not panning out. If the sign-up continues to lag behind projections it’s clear that the cost of health insurance premiums will go higher. This is why, according to Moore, Obamacare is a failure–it doesn’t address the problem of the high cost of medical care.

Moore calls for a single payer health care system like our neighbors to the North. This is where his “moron o’ meter” sky rockets for my conservative friends. They argue that government involvement always makes things much more inefficient and expensive. The government should get out of the way of the market–hard work and paying for stuff is the American way. If everyone would just pay their bills, so the argument goes, the cost of health care would come down. Fifty years ago this approach might have made sense. Today, however, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening faster and faster. Jobs are scarce, wages are stagnant, and the cost of daily life is on the rise. Real people are struggling to make a go of it, and the only thing offered to them by way of a solution to the health care dilemma are old ideas repackaged and spit shined. What passes for leadership lately is the ability to take something old and make people think it’s new, or to crow about innovation and thinking “outside the box” when the very term implies an inability to escape the idea that there actually is a box to begin with.

I remember an SNL skit during the 2000 presidential election that consisted of three vignettes showing what the outcome of a Bush, Gore, and Nader presidency might look like. Both Bush and Gore were shown to be disasters–politically and economically. Nader’s presidency was represented as a time of peace and equitable prosperity. As Nader spoke, however, pigs could be seen flying around in the background. It’s a funny skit, one that speaks to the limited political and social imagination gripping our political landscape. It’s this limited imagination that Moore takes on in his piece. But don’t worry–I’m sure no one will take it seriously. After all, he’s the liberal who, by supporting Nader, helped make the Bush presidency possible. Talk about pigs flying…   

Jason Lief

Jason Lief teaches Practical Theology at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He served as editor of Reformed Journal for many years and was one of the original bloggers on the RJ blog. You can find more of his writing at


  • Daniel Meeter says:

    I could never have voted for Nader, having heard him speak in Hoboken, and I was struck by his egotistical self-righteousness. He loved it that he could not win. But what I really want to say is that it grieves me that Jason (with Moore) is so right: the ACA is not health-care reform but an insurance deal. I hope and pray that the ACA will not end up a disaster, and set us back even further. Not one conservative politician in Canada would ever give up his or her Health Card. Once again America proves itself a "faith-based" country. And I don't mean necessarily faith in God, but in this case faith in ideological doctrines, like "the self-correcting market," and that such a doctrine will solve the problems of health care. Blind faith, actually.

  • David Crump says:

    I will never understand how the important research of T. R. Reid is consistently neglected in this debate. He has analyzed the health care systems of more than a dozen industrialized nations, all of which have much lower health care costs than the USA while also providing universal coverage. Of the nations he investigates only Great Britain operates with a single payer system; all the others depend on private insurance. Yet, both American liberals and conservatives seem content to remain blithely ignorant of his important research. All sides are content repeating their preconceived notions rather than learn something new from other countries that have healthier populations per capita than we do.

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