Thursday, December 19, 2013

Short J legs

J curves pop up in a number of unrelated fields. In political science, it's often viewed as a tradeoff between stability and openness with a short leg of  increased stability at very low levels of openness and a long leg. Since Obamacare/ACA first took shape, I've been worried that we were in a 'j' curve situation with this legislation seeking to push us up the short leg, a policy dead end that would be politically difficult to reverse because any small reforms would actually make the situation worse. The axes on the graph being private economic activity on the x axis and effective medicine on the y axis.

The poor roll out and fundamental flaws being uncovered in Obamacare as it actually hits the real world actually ease my worries about it being a societal trap. It's working so badly that the resistance to reform may be weak enough to allow for incremental reform to be a real option. Let's not mince words, Obamacare is an expensive and dangerous flop. But it could be worse. It could set us up in the same trap that the UK has yet to escape from with its NHS and which Canada is only starting to escape with its health system.