Forcing all of us to pay for others’ indulgent priorities

All of us have long known that poverty in America isn’t like poverty anywhere else in the world.  There really isn’t anything here comparable to the poverty in Haiti, or Calcutta, or large swathes of Africa.  Even poor people have televisions and phones.  And it’s apparent that a surprising number of people who are living on the thin edge economically still find money, not just for basic cell phones, but for fancy ones with lots of service; and are able to buy, not just basic clothes, but status conscious name brands.  Even when one is poor, one still makes choices.

Linda Halderman writes about some of the choices her patients made when she practiced in a low income clinic.  Either because they didn’t care, or because they knew or assumed that our system, which never turns people away at the ER, provides a safety net, many of them chose not to buy insurance but, instead, to invest in things that would affect the immediate quality of their lives:  high end transportation, fancy communication devices, cosmetic surgery, etc.  Being young and healthy, and having to make choices, they invested in their present, not their future.  The question Linda asks is, as to these people, the ones who can and do make choices, why should be, the taxpayers, be forced to provide them with essentially free insurance?

Individuals in this country have a right to decide how — and how not — to spend their money.

But that right does not include accepting entitlements without sharing responsibility. Doing so contributes to the high cost of care that burdens every unsubsidized patient.

If individuals prefer to buy luxury items rather than pay for their healthcare needs, that preference should not be rewarded while taxpayers struggle to foot their own bills.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • eric-odessit

    Some time ago I commented that those who “choose” not to buy health insurance should be required to purchase at least some form of emergency coverage. I am putting “choose” in quotes because this is a choice without consequences. A lot of other commenters disagreed with me about forcing people to buy coverage. But now you are making my point.

  • BrianE

    How insensitive to ask people to forgo their cell phones, satellite tv service, or Accuras to provide for their own medical insurance!

    I caught a little of Ann Coulter on the Behar show and when Ann suggested that people buy limited (catastrophic) insurance, the retort was that people couldn’t afford to buy it. Which seems to be a common argument against any conservative proposal.

    The generally accepted number of people who honestly can’t afford health insurance is 9 million. The rest of the 47 million are people who qualify for medicaid and haven’t signed up; choose not to buy insurance, but could afford it; or are illegals.

    So instead of adding those nine million to Medicaid, which would increase Medicaid rolls by 15%, Democrats are willing to damage the health insurance of 80%, or 260 million people. The reasons are transparent and have been discussed many times on this blog– power. Power to dole out benefits to an additional segment of society, making more Americans beholden to those in power. Consolidating power.

    Some facts about Medicaid:
    •Medicaid covers 60 million low-income people, including 29.4 million children, 15.2 million adults, 8.2 million people with disabilities and 6.1 million seniors.
    •More people than any other single health care program in the U.S., including Medicare.
    •Medicaid is the largest children’s health program in the country.
    •Medicaid is the nation’s primary long-term care program, accounting for 43 percent of total long-term care spending and paying for nearly 60 percent of nursing home residents.
    •Medicaid covers over 40 percent of the poor.
    •Medicaid covers one in five people with severe disabilities.

    I would consider an idea where the government required catastrophic insurance and individuals would then be free to purchase additional insurance for other care, such as chiropractic, or acupuncture, or pregnancy, etc, setting the threshold to say, $10,000 and pay 80% up to $20,00 and then 100% after that.
    Individuals could choose whether they wanted to be responsible for their portion, or buy additional coverage for that first $14,000.
    Sort of the model of automobile insurance, where all drivers are required to carry basic liability, but comprehensive and collision are optional.
    Medical care in this country is expensive enough that I don’t think it is prudent to force the tax payer to be on the hook when an individual who chooses not to be insured suffers a serious illness.

    Those folks who truly can’t afford to pay for their deductable would be treated in Medicaid.
    We know an additional reason why Democrats would never propose such a system and the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid is broke! Since the American taxpayer is reluctant to increase funding to welfare (and justifiably so), Democrats are going the long way around to achieve their goals of raising taxes, excuse me– enhanced revenues, to subsidize increased coverage for their target constituency.

  • BrianE

    Here’s a proposal by the Kaiser Family Foundation, proposing to use Medicaid as the vehicle to increase coverage for those elusive 47 million people.
    It’s interesting Democrats seem to ignore proposals that don’t allow them complete control of the medical industry.

  • Mike

    All good comments but the idea is to BUY votes from all those illegals.

  • David Foster

    “It’s interesting Democrats seem to ignore proposals that don’t allow them complete control of the medical industry”…Obama is all about power, not about effectiveness. He reminds me of certain people I’ve known in business who endlessly lobby and scheme to expand their organizations but show very little interest in being responsible stewards of the resources that have already been entrusted to them.