Explaining Obamacare to Grade Three Kids

By Shlomo Maital     

                       grade three

   How would you explain the US government shutdown and Republican psychosis about Obamacare (The Affordable Health Care Act), to a class of Grade Three kids?

   Here is my attempt.

   Kids, sometimes people get sick.  Going to the doctor costs a lot of money. So they buy insurance, just like your mom and dad buy insurance, in case there is a fire at your house.  Insurance means you are paid money when something you don’t expect happens.   A lot of American people, 30 million or more,  don’t have health insurance.  So President Obama and the United States Congress acted to make sure they do.  This was done by a law called the Affordable Health Care Act.   

   But here is the problem.  Medical care costs a whole lot more in America than other places – probably twice as much or more.   And in America health insurance is provided by the companies that your mom and dad work for  (while in other countries it is mostly provided by the government).  So when President Obama makes every business provide health insurance, it means that some small businesses that don’t have much money have to spend a lot to do what the law says, and they don’t like it.   Why doesn’t the government in America provide health insurance?  Well, it’s a long story. It goes back to the days of President John F. Kennedy, who almost did it, but in the end the doctors shot it down. 

    So the Republicans think that Obama’s health insurance law is too expensive and want to cancel it.  The Democrats think it is a good thing and want to keep it.  This is what has caused the shutdown of government, because you can’t pay people without having a government budget and the Republicans in the House of Representative will not vote for this.   The people in America who had health insurance already were mostly satisfied with it.  The people who didn’t have health insurance are mostly happy with the new law but we don’t know for sure, because the law has just begun to work.

    A lot of people outside America are looking at how national parks and cemeteries and Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty and part of the Pentagon are closed, and are just amazed.  It sure doesn’t make America look good.

   Everybody believes that democracy – where everyone chooses their elected officials by voting, and where everyone gets to have a vote – is a good thing. But when democracy shuts down the government in America, some people are wondering if it is really working the way it should. 


  Boring background:  America spends 18 per cent of its GDP on health care, twice that of most nations, but America’s health statistics are significantly worse than many other modern nations.   The real core problem is:  the Affordable Health Care act has NOT made health care affordable for America as a whole.   To do that, you would have to make drugs cheaper, pay doctors and hospitals less, and take health care out of the for-profit sector.