Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is FACEBOOK Over For Teens? Obamacare Almost Over For Americans?



RHETORICAL QUESTIONS DESERVE ELABORATION.  But the short answers are Yes, Dead and Buried  for de-liking teens everywhere, and Yes, Unraveling for Americans of all political persuasions. 

Teens in the USA and UK aren't  just fleeing  FACEBOOK which is their parents' favorite way to snoop on them,  they're simply not signing up at all.  FACEBOOK is now for old people,  government snooopers, day traders (FB) and mass promotions.  Kids have long since moved on to hipper things. Here's the scoop at Business Insider:

What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried. Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.
Instead, four new contenders for the crown have emerged: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Speaking of moving on,  what about the inevitability of Obamacare now that it's a federal law, for heaven sakes?   John Cochrane at the WSJ sums up our (pleasant) predicament in What To Do When Obamacare Unravels?

The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act presents a historic opportunity for change. Its proponents call it "settled law," but as Prohibition taught us, not even a constitutional amendment is settled law—if it is dysfunctional enough, and if Americans can see a clear alternative.
This fall's website fiasco and policy cancellations are only the beginning. Next spring the individual mandate is likely to unravel when we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance. The employer mandate and "accountable care organizations" will take their turns in the news. There will be scandals. There will be fraud. It will go on for years.

Yes, it could go on for years.  But will it, really?  The key to going forward is for citizens and states to offer viable alternatives---new healthcare apps to unwieldy  federal law while doing everything in our power to make Obamacare as obsolete as FACEBOOK.  Cochrane continues:

There is an alternative. A much freer market in health care and health insurance can work, can deliver high quality, technically innovative care at much lower cost, and solve the pathologies of the pre-existing system.

The U.S. health-care market is dysfunctional. Obscure prices and $500 Band-Aids are legendary. The reason is simple: Health care and health insurance are strongly protected from competition. There are explicit barriers to entry, for example the laws in many states that require a "certificate of need" before one can build a new hospital. Regulatory compliance costs, approvals, nonprofit status, restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, limits on medical residencies, and many more barriers keep prices up and competitors out. Hospitals whose main clients are uncompetitive insurers and the government cannot innovate and provide efficient cash service.
So the choice is clear,  Obamacare is on life-support and our federal tenders may not pull the plug for years.  But we can move on and push for the most innovative companies in the country, and world, to find creative solutions that will leave the humongous federal beast  our rear-view mirrors.

We need to permit the Southwest Airlines, LUV +0.21% Wal-Mart, WMT AMZN +0.57% and Apples of the world to bring to health care the same dramatic improvements in price, quality, variety, technology and efficiency that they brought to air travel, retail and electronics. We'll know we are there when prices are on hospital websites, cash customers get discounts, and new hospitals and insurers swamp your inbox with attractive offers and great service.The Affordable Care Act bets instead that more regulation, price controls, effectiveness panels, and "accountable care" organizations will force efficiency, innovation, quality and service from the top down. Has this ever worked? Did we get smartphones by government pressure on the 1960s AT&T +0.75% phone monopoly? Did effectiveness panels force United Airlines and American Airlines to cut costs, and push TWA and Pan Am out of business? Did the post office invent FedExFDX +0.70% UPS and email? How about public schools or the last 20 or more health-care "cost control" ideas?
Only deregulation can unleash competition. And only disruptive competition, where new businesses drive out old ones, will bring efficiency, lower costs and innovation.

And John, we shouldn't leave CVS and Walgreens out of the mix with their efficient, low-cost minute, walk-in clinics.  There is so much money to be made in opportunities and apps ahead it makes my head spin.

We should all help pull the plug on OC by letting the free market do its magic and create lots of new healthcare APPS---to everyone's financial benefit and improved health. I mean, everyone has a cell phone.

When you think it can't happen, just remember the Prohibition amendment and carry on.  And remember,  OC is the world's bigges, most laborious bore.

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