In 2040, many cities will look like the City of London does today, and no one will understand why the Obamacare website's initial failures were a big deal. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
October 1st, 2040
A man calls his son on his holophone (which works just like the Princess Leia hologram from Star Wars: A New Hope). He appears projected on a small platform, wearing bell bottoms, which he is pretty sure that he and his friends discovered. He won’t go to work (via Hyperloop) in anything else.
DAD: Happy 27th Billy, how does it feel?
BILLY: I’m so old!
DAD: I’m old. You don’t even remember computer screens that are actual screens instead of just displays that beam into the air in front of you.
BILLY: Whatever. I still don’t even understand how you could watch the Mets win the World Series four times in a row on a two-dimensional screen.
DAD: Hey, not to be a downer on your big day, but I just remembered that you get kicked off my health insurance plan today. Have you made other arrangements?
BILLY: Yeah, I went on to that healthcare website and signed up for the cheapest one. Forty bucks every month! That’s so much!
Billy absentmindedly winks his left eye to "click" on a window that had appeared in the lower corner of his vision via a wearable computing device. The window appeared in response to his saying "that healthcare website." The website projects in front of him, then he casually sweeps it away with a brush of his arm.
DAD: You know the day you were born there was a lot of controversy about the law that created that website.
BILLY: I bet! I can’t believe insurance companies didn’t have to spend 80% of their profits on providing care before the Affordable Care Act.
DAD: No it wasn’t that, it was—
BILLY: The preexisting conditions thing, right? Insurance companies must have been furious they had to cover people who will actually pay through their deductibles.
DAD: Not that either, what caused such a fuss was—
BILLY: The mandates? I bet a lot of people didn’t understand that they pay for other people’s healthcare regardless of whether it’s directly through the mandate or indirectly through taxes, or semi directly by paying into an insurance plan.
DAD: Yeah, people got upset about the mandates. But no, the reason people were so worked up was because the website didn’t work for the first month.
BILLY: I…wait, what? That law changed everything and people got all jacked about the website?
DAD: Well, the Tea Party needed something to be angry about and--
BILLY: The who?
DAD: I'll tell you later. I don't want to ruin your birthday.
The kerfuffle over the Obamacare website: just one of many things today that won’t make any sense in retrospect. This is a hugely consequential law, and the website will be fixed in a month or so. Maybe we should all chill out about the second part of that sentence and think more about the first part.