The cost of ObamaCare pales, economically or in terms of quality of care, in my opinion, in comparison to what President Obama's health care law will cost our country, in terms of mindset.
Here's why: The notion of an individual mandate, that is forcing Americans to buy something with their after-tax dollars (or pay a fine), can make citizens see themselves as serfs who actually have no right at all to the money they earn, and keep it only when it suits the federal government.
Money is a metaphor: Take away the right to determine what people do with their earned, after-tax income and you will take away their self-confidence, self-determination, creativity and courage to act on their beliefs and their ideas.
An American citizen who willingly allows the federal government to earmark his or her after-tax income and direct it to insurance companies is an American citizen who has decided that the government "knows best." The federal government is, from that moment forward, (in at least some measure) that citizen's parent, leaving them only with an allowance, consisting of what's left after they buy what their "parents" in Washington tell them to.
Every human being knows in his or her heart that the ability to earn a living and make decisions about the money that flows to him or her is one of the hallmarks of an autonomous life.
Children and adolescents dream of the day when they will "have their own money," because they understand that the roots of the monetary/financial system reach deep into sacred notions of individual choice and freedom. Take that decision-making capacity away from the individual, and you risk slingshotting him or her back to a pre-adolescent stance. You infantilize that person.
Seen this way, the individual mandate is, therefore, another in those forces unleashed by President Obama--along with lots of food stamps and lots of unemployment payments and lots of bailouts--which encourages adult Americans to turn to their government for nurturance, and to become angry at perceived oppressors when they feel unfulfilled.
If you think that Occupy Wall Street was a spectacle, just wait and see how tens of millions of adult children, who have been told they can't decide how to spend their money, behave when their allowance dries up.
Seen through this "We the Parents" lens, rather than "We the People," it should be obvious that ObamaCare is a terrifying trap. Under the guise of "helping" and "healing" and "caring" for Americans, it reminds them how vulnerable they are to illness. Under the guise of "fairness," it takes away their financial decision-making capacity. In true Progressive fashion, it makes people regress and feel as though they don't know best how to manage their health or their affairs. It renders them weak.
Deep inside, people despise being weak. It is an affront to their God-given rights to SELF-determination and the pursuit of happiness. Hence, the stance of federal government as parent that sits so well with President Obama opens the door to depression and all manner of ills (including drug abuse) that afflict those who feel disempowered.
With Egypt in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, with Iran building nuclear weapons and with Europe facing economic calamity, the last thing we need are lessons from Washington in how to be weak individuals. Because courage comes from deep inside, from each adult American in this nation it will, ultimately, be the only thing that stands between us and calamity. The individual mandate of ObamaCare is a virus that could destroy that good psychological DNA.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.