Obamacare, Explained as if to a 5 year old

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Recently I caught an Obamacare discussion on the Explain it to Me Like I’m 5 forum at reddit.com. The original post asked “What exactly is Obamacare and what did it change?” Because I differ with the most popular response, I will offer a brief rebuttal here on my own blog. That works out just fine because, not only am I chief cook and bottle wash, but I am also judge, jury and executioner. Aside from that I think I do have a legitimate point to make.

Regarding the original thread, and quoting from posting guidelines, ELI5 is “A friendly place to ask questions and get elementary school-level answers, without fear of judgement.” There are two rules and guidelines for answers most relevant: [1] no bias…, and [2] “Keep your answers simple! We’re shooting for elementary-school age answers…”

While I credit CaspianX2 with a fair and comprehensive response, I think it is significantly flawed in two regards. First, although reasonably fair, citing some arguments on both sides, it nonetheless reads as a extended defense of the bill and therefor fails the “no bias” test. Second it so far exceeds the guideline of “elementary-school age answers” that it outright fails the criteria. Specifically, most of the response, which is over 2000 words far exceeds the vocabulary, attention-span and comprehension level of all but the most sophisticated elementary school students.

Because it is such an important topic, and it should be reducible to the level a 5 year can understand, I am going to give it a try. However, I will take the other side of the argument, and will describe why Obamacare is wrong.

Even while just a child, the first thing I remember about the formation of my identity as an American citizen was that I had freedom. In particular, I had freedom of speech, and I knew at the time that it was an important concept. I also knew that this was insured by our US Constitution which was the basis for our government. I did not know much else about my others rights and responsibilities, but as a typical kid I did a lot of talking. As such, the “free speech” aspect appealed to me a lot. More than just being able to talk when I wanted, I also knew that I was free to speak my ideas. My ideas at the time where not that sophisticated, however I did understand these things when I was five; I was taught about our flag, the pledge of allegiance, the US Constitution and about freedom.

So, here is what I’d say to my five year old self, or any five year old for that matter: Obamacare is a law with many parts, that is intended to improve your ability to get care from your Doctor. Our country is considering if the law is valid, or whether it should be overturned. A very important part of the law is that the US Government says it needs to force your parents to buy something called health insurance, even if they do not want to buy it. The originator of the law, our President Obama himself, has said that the law can’t work if the US Government is not able to force your parents to buy that health insurance. The problem is that the government can only force your parents to buy something by taking away from their freedom. Obamacare is wrong because it takes away from freedom that is promised in our Constitution.

I will concede that a few of these words might be hard for a five year old, but not so much that any difficulties could not be addressed by a simple re-phrasing in more understandable terms. My premise though is that the concepts are basic enough that a child could understand them.

That’s why I’d be comfortable explaining to a young person that Obamacare is wrong, and that it should be overturned, because it takes away from freedom that is guaranteed in our Constitution.

It really is just that simple; even a five year old can understand.

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3 Responses to “Obamacare, Explained as if to a 5 year old”

  1. B192 (uh, me, the author, my blog!) says:

    Out of curiosity about what would happen I started a thread on reddit in /r/politicaldiscussion. It has generated some interesting feedback, and I’m happy to say that it has been a very civil discussion. Here is the link –> http://www.reddit.com/r/PoliticalDiscussion/comments/vnr7r/how_id_explain_obamacare_to_a_5_year_old/

  2. Blue Raven says:

    Dear Crow:

    I am not happy with “ObamaCare” either, but rather because it does not go far enough.

    I would prefer a west European style system,, but that seems politically impossible in this country. What we have is a minimal government intervention system, after having been compromised with all vested powers here, such as the health insurance companies, libertarians, Republicans, hospital lobbies, etc.

    The result is a sorry sight, but does not reflect on a “Medicare for All” system. It only reflects on our political deadlock.

    I would ask you the following: Chose between two worlds: One has a Swedish level of taxation, but with a Swedish life expectancy, and health levels for underprivileged children, and the other has lower taxes (we think) and healthcare is a choice, but large numbers of untreated poor kids, untreated pregnancies, and infectious diseases.

    None of these are perfect worlds, I find the first to be more ethical, and people voting for the second are in some sense responsible for the greater suffering of those who cannot afford care. Certainly they had a chance to mitigate it, and chose not to.

    A side benefit of government health care is it takes away most of the malpractice lawsuits: If you get damaged in an operation, your treatment is free. (Presumably, the doctor would also have his license looked at…) While I seriously doubt that malpractice payouts are a significant cost driver, people who reject government healthcare commonly cite malpractice as a major problem.

    That said, much of this discussion would be less important if our “subsidized free market” system would work better. Imagine if federally funded drug research would result in federally owned patents, with drug companies competing for lowest cost production. Also imagine if we created a career path from nurse to doctor (requiring additional education) we could operate a lot more local clinics. I look forward to the opponents of Obamacare to identify the inefficiencies in the “free market” system and propose solutions.

    Best Regards;


  3. B192 says:

    BlueRaven… Good input, thanks for weighing in. I do not know anything about the Swedish approach, or its constitution, so I will concede the point. What I am concerned about is the US Constitution and our freedom as citizens. We are less free when our government asserts that we have to buy something or risk penalty or additional taxation. I too want problems in our health care, including the issues most important to you, solved. However, I do not want them solved at the expense of freedom. Personally, I am profoundly sad at today’s SCOTUS ruling. It solved nothing and put the court in the position telling Congress they wrote the law wrong by calling the penalty a penalty, instead of calling it a tax. Rather than ruling unconstitional and sending it back to be relegislated, they legislated from the bench. This is further cause for concern, but I’m becoming too exhausted by the debate. I must conserve my energy. Thanks for your input though; it is well reasoned even though it does not address my concern over the loss of freedom.