No, Obamacare Is Not a "War On Bros," But Nice Try

What Women Really Think
Nov. 5 2013 3:21 PM

No, Obamacare Is Not a "War On Bros"

Fans participate in tailgating activities before the game between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs and subsidize your pap smear.

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

One of the major problems that the right wing media is facing when trying to demonize Obamacare is that the actual provisions in the law are quite popular. People opposed this entity they called "Obamacare" because they didn't understand it, and the rollout has for sure been a total mess. But as Americans start to experience what the health care exchanges are actually about—basically, making it easier to get substantive health insurance if you're not covered by an employer—right wing strategies have to shift. One strategy that's developing quickly: Pitting men against women.

The latest example of this is Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, who complained on Fox News that the Affordable Care Act is a "war on bros," i.e. younger men who tend to not go to the doctor much, and that "men are going to pay more relative to women." He neglects to mention that's because the ACA bans insurance companies from charging women more, meaning men don't get a discount anymore for simply being male. Women do have more medical concerns starting younger than men, mostly because of childbirth and other gynecological issues, but it is worth pointing out that women's health in that department is intimately tied up with their relationships with men.  Roy also tried to pit young against old, pointing out that older people are "heavily subsidized by young people." Of course, Fox's viewers are mostly on Medicare and are getting subsidized by younger people no matter what happens. 


This isn't the first time that Fox News has pitted men against women in order to distract its audience from the truth. Roy admits that individual market premiums are only going up in states that had largely unregulated insurance markets before, which is a nice, elusive way of saying that before Obamacare, insurance companies were free to sell you "insurance" whose only real benefit was a card you got in the mail, or what Consumer Reports calls "junk health insurance" that covers so little that you're often better off having no insurance at all.

Under the ACA, the individual market is being set up to look like the kind of insurance that you get through an employer, as Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine explains. So whether you are using a health exchange or you get insured through your employer, the young "subsidize" the old and young men "subsidize" young women. That's how insurance works. Which is why, if you look past the jokes about "bros," it becomes quickly evident that what Roy isn't arguing against here is the ACA so much as the very existence of insurance itself. If it's wrong for older people or women to use more health care when everyone's paying into the system, then it should be wrong whether you get your insurance through your job or the health care exchange. Having your boss arrange the paperwork doesn't change the fact that some people need more health care. I'm guessing Fox News is so certain that its audience will be enraged about women stealing all the health insurance with birth control pills (which, in the land of right wing media, have no benefit for men at all), that viewers won't notice that they were just nodding along to a radical argument against the very concept of health insurance at all. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.