When Republican lawmakers talk about health care, the word “choice” invariably comes up a lot, as if buying insurance is an activity akin to buying lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. The more on the menu, the better the care, the thinking goes.
“We must move to a better system that embraces competition and choice and actually lowers costs for patients and taxpayers,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in a March op-ed advocating for the GOP Obamacare repeal plan that passed this week in the House.
To mock the Republican idea of health care choice, a new website purporting to be for the American Health Care Act allows visitors to “choose your plan.”
For a range of prices, Americans can pick a casket of their choice for their burial when they die from lack of health insurance. The caskets even come in cute different colors.
It also plugs the hashtag #MedicareForAll, the rallying cry of progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who support single-payer health insurance.
But the humor plays off a broader issue. Critics say the Republican advocacy of “health care choice” has always been something of a misnomer because health care just isn’t like other consumer goods.
Consumers do not have the same power to command lower prices for health care, since it is not a product they can choose to not have. People also often lack the information and resources to choose a health care provider based on its financial value.
It may be the GOP’s failure to appreciate these nuances that led them to pass a bill in the House of Representatives that would provide coverage to an estimated 24 million fewer people than the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
If enacted, the Republican legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, could very well lead people to die preventable deaths. Some 45,000 people died annually due to lack of health insurance, according to a 2009 Harvard Medical School study that was conducted prior to passage of Obamacare.