Monday, August 17, 2009

Well, here's one problem...

The local paper here did a sampling of people's opinions about healthcare reform. Here is one:

"I heard that if this passes, then everyone is going to eventually be forced to get government health care and I don't want that. I don't have it right now, but that's by choice. I don't want anyone telling me that I have to get it and pay for it."

Except that when this person has even a minor problem-- say, a fracture or a really nasty cut-- where is he going to go? To the ER. If he can't pay for the ER visit, the hospital eats it and has to make the money up somewhere else (like by raising the prices for services to people with insurance and inflating the skyrocketing price of insurance for those who are lucky enough to have it and responsible enough to have it if they can get it). If this person has a catastrophic illness, well, the financial consequences for the system are dire.

Of course, most people that don't have healthcare lack it because they can't afford it; I'm taking issue specifically with people like the guy quoted above, because it brings to the fore one of the more important aspects of the healthcare debate: a mandate. Even the craziest teabagging Neanderthal should be able to realize that the current healthcare system deincentivizes an individual (especially a young, healthy person) from getting insurance. After all, younger people tend to be healthier, get sick less, and treat various injuries or mildly serious illnesses at the ER. This raises costs for everyone. Having the healthiest demographic in the insurance pool is essential to driving costs down.

Socialism! Big government telling me I have to buy something that I'm willing to chance living without! Big brother! Right? Well, think of the parallel. The government forces you to buy car insurance, doesn't it? Why? So that when you do something that costs other people money (like plowing into their car), you have the financial ability (through your insurance) to pay for it. I wish people like the guy in the paper would take three seconds and make this connection; one that a particularly sharp second grader would be able to make handily.