Sometimes, I cover insurance seminars, and the organizers ask me, “So, how did we do? What we could do to make it better?”
I hate to answer a question like that, as a reporter, because, first, it seems unethical for a reporter to directly shape what people in an industry are doing, and, also, because, when I’m acting as a reporter, I have tastes that clash with what I want in other circumstances.
In everyday life, I love harmony. I want everyone to get along. I don’t mind watching zombies eat people on The Walking Dead, but I have a hard time watching workers get into spats on Mad Men.
As a reporter, I want to see conflict. Lots of conflict. When I’m reporting, my secret wish for the panel discussions is, “More fistfights!”
So, when I visited a tax office in New York the other day (many details changed to protect privacy) to spy on what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) is doing to our income tax filing system, I was hoping to see PPACA exchange plan enrollees screaming over erroneous Form 1095-A coverage notices. Maybe a man trying to get the premium tax credit for an immigrant step-child that he’d had in his household for seven months in 2014. Maybe a woman singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee and insisting on her right to get a religious exemption from owning Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) without going through one of those infernal PPACA exchanges.
Or, at the very least, a lot of Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) posters on the walls.
No such luck.
There was one Earned Income Tax Credit poster, and drawings, by schoolchildren, of the Evil Taxman, but no PPACA posters.