MIT economist Jonathan Gruber calls health care reform the “biggest social policy legislation since Medicare.” So what better way to explain such a serious, complex and far-reaching topic than through comics?
Gruber, an advisor to President Obama on national reform and a key architect of Massachusetts reform, says he was hesitant to distill such a weighty subject into comic book form but in fact, by explaining the problem graphically, through characters like Betty on Medicare or unlucky Carlos who has to buy his own health insurance, Gruber covers a lot of ground, and is able to lay out the various issues and make his case for the national health law on both a macro level and through gritty details. (“There are no death panels,” the comic-book Gruber, black-and-white and bespectacled, tells a ranting grandmother-type shaking her cane.)
One measure of the book’s clarity and accessibility is that my 8-year-old daughter picked up my review copy and started reading. Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, will be published by Hill and Wang in January. I spoke briefly with Gruber this week and agreed to post only one image, for now. There’s more to come, though, so stay tuned.
What’s the appeal of a comic book on health reform?
I think what really convinced me, when you want to educate people, the comic is a great way to do it. When an airline wants you to know what to do in case of an accident, they give you a comic.
Here we have perhaps one of the most complicated topics that people deal with in society, so the idea of explaining it in a comic form is appealing. Really, it’s not a comic book, it’s a graphic novel, it’s trying to use pictures to make compelling what is essentially dry — let’s face it, this is not exciting, it’s not funny, it’s fundamentally a policy argument. Using pictures allows you to use fewer words. Continue reading