What’s the best silver screen analogue for HealthCare.gov’s disastrous first month?
There’s The Big Sleep, that hardboiled detective story so bafflingly complex that even screenwriter William Faulkner (!) famously wasn’t sure who was responsible for all the bodies. That’s a pretty good description of the online health insurance marketplace’s many contractors, none of whom seems to be responsible for their perfect components not working once they were all hooked together.
Speaking of those components that don’t quite fit together, maybe the best analogy is Paul Thomas Anderson’s opus Magnolia, a collection of disparate plot lines spread across one day in Los Angeles that all seem destined to connect in some meaningful way at the end but never really do.
Congress’ favorite analogy is The Wizard of Oz, that old tale of deception, aspiration and all sorts of missing parts -- at least judging by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ appearance before the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
Members didn’t agree on precisely how the analogy worked during the hearing but they were sure it worked somehow, bringing it up over and over again.
Sometimes it seemed Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, was supposed to be Dorothy, whisked into a land of health care management that she -- and by extension, the government -- was unequipped to handle. Other times, it seemed we citizens were supposed to be Dorothy, journeying through an unfamiliar land where our health insurance options were suddenly more limited, more costly and locked inside a failing website.
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, observed that maybe, like the wizard, people are flocking to the new government-operated insurance market “because of the wonderful things [it] does.” Another member noted that, once you look behind the curtain, HealthCare.gov might not be all it was cracked up to be.
Sebelius seemed to see the analogies coming before they even began -- and what savvy Kansan isn’t always on the lookout for them? -- informing a member who said she was from Kansas that she actually grew up in Cincinnati.
The Wizard of Oz seems like a facile analogy, though. I’m sure there’s something better.
What about Frankenstein? That’s the story of a man who becomes so obsessed with building something awesome and important that he loses sight of rule number one: Make sure it doesn’t hurt people.
Or, who knows, maybe HealthCare.gov is like The Terminator’s John Connor, so important his opponents try to destroy him in childhood before he can accomplish his great works. Yes, in this case leading the human resistance against robot armies is analogous to providing Americans with cheap, universal health insurance coverage.
Have a better film analogy for the troubled launch? Share it in the comments.