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August 18, 2009


Perhaps the dog food parable helps explain why the President's health reform isn't selling:

A large multinational dog food company decided to come out with the latest and greatest dog food. They had their research scientists design the most nutritious combination of ingredients, containing all the essential vitamins and amino acids required by dogs. They had the marketing department put together a most colorful advertisement and a catchy jingo was thought up for their TV commercial. And they spent gobs of money on TV advertising and splashy full page magazine ads. The engineers designed equipment to make this dog food in the most efficient manner, and the packaging department designed a beautiful box for it. The sales force was trained, and every supermarket chain had shelf space devoted to the dog food.
It did not sell.

So the company CEO gathered his top executives together to have a meeting to discover why. He asked each department "Why isn't our dog food selling?" The research department said there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with their formulation. Marketing was completely stumped. The sales force was mystified. No one had a clue as to what was wrong. Finally, after a long pause, a new employee sitting in the back of the room finally got the courage to say "But the dogs don't like it!"

I think the Amercan public doesn't want a radical restructuring of their health care system. Why should they? Surveys show that Americans are largely satisfied with their own health care.

I agree with Brendan and Manjoo that the death panels are a silly way to attack health care reform. However, I don't think the President's "marketing" problem can be solved by answering the death panel objection, because the public's real objection is to the "product" itself.

Did you see the most recent e-mail sent by David Axelrod? They did a "myth debunking" section and in some of the points they actually proactively stated the opposite of the myth instead of just repeating it and sayinG THIS IS FALSE. (They do repeat it though, see below)

Anyway I wondered if someone had been doing some research hehe.

# Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
# Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
# Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
# You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
# No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Most polls point out that a large majority (about 70%) do favor a radical restructuring of the health care system. For these reasons -

1) people recognize that a large percentage of the population has no insurance coverage and lacks preventative or basic wellness care (the ability to have an annual check-up, for example)

2) costs are very high and are have increased at over double the rate of inflation annually for the past two decades

3) health care outcomes are average (or below average) compared to other industrialized nations

So people are concerned about access, affordability and overall quality.

But in terms of saying that they receive quality care, most people can say that they do. Its just the access, the cost and the overall results they are not happy with.

Howard Craft, people may be disasatified with access, costs and overall results, but they think Obamacare will be worse:

NYT/CBS Poll: 69% believe Obamacare will hurt the quality of their own health care


Did they say it would be "worse", or just that they were concerned with a possible impact on quality?

The poll still shows a large majority in favor of significant change. BTW, it also shows that there is a belief that the Democrats (or Obama) have a batter plan than anyone else.

The article you referenced is very selective in the responses it highlighted.

I would take it as a nice example of the tendency to seek out "hypothesis-confirming evidence".

In answer to your question, Howard, I followed the links and discovered

* Sixty-nine percent believe Obamacare will hurt the quality of their own health care.

* Seventy-three percent believe they will have less access to tests and treatment.

* Sixty-two percent believe Democrats' proposals would force them to change doctors.

* Seventy-six percent believe Obama's changes will mean higher taxes for them.

* Seventy-seven percent expect their health care costs to rise.

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