spin cycle: the affordable care act v. obamacare

Welcome back to Spin Cycle! We’re not here to start a fight about health insurance, but we would like you to notice the words that are vying for your attention in the news — especially, in this case, if you are a U.S. citizen.

There is a new law about health insurance in the States. Its official name is “The Affordable Care Act” because the people who write the laws also get to name them. The story this name tells us is that, under the law, we will be able to afford care (notice: “care” — not “insurance” — because care sounds really nice, like a bowl of chicken noodle soup someone else made for you when you had a really bad cold, whereas “insurance” sounds like a guy in a very expensive suit explaining why you have to pay for your own ambulance ride).

The nickname some people have given to the law is “Obamacare.” This name tells a story, too, but the story you hear depends on what you already think about President Obama. Your bias will affect how the word makes you feel.

If you like him, the story you hear is: “Presidents have been trying to pass a law like this for decades, and our guy finally did it. He’s the best!”

If you don’t like him, the story you hear every time you hear “Obamacare” goes something more like: “Cults of personality are dangerous, and this guy is using his celebrity status to further his crazy political agenda.”

When something you see in the world seems to confirm something you already think, it’s a good idea to try to prove yourself wrong.