I had a debate with a friend of mine about the insurance mandate. He professes to be a limited government guy that supported Reagan, yet he recently voted Democrat twice, is a proud union employee of the state, and supports socialized medicine. You know—a traitor. (I am kidding; he is a friend, just a misguided one from where I sit.) Needless to say, he and I don’t agree on much these days politically.
My work history includes years in the insurance business, so I have to say that the argument for the health insurance mandate makes mathematical sense—sort of. We pay at an early age into insurance we will rarely use while we’re young and healthy, so that later in life when we start to need it more, that money is there waiting for us. Think of it as health savings and insurance.
By doing so, we increase the insurance company’s revenue now—and thus reduce their losses which results in lower rates for everyone later. In an odd sort of way, it’s the same as the argument that lowering taxes increases revenue because the economy grows; it’s just that the cause and effect are swapped.
But the argument is only logical because it is based on an assumption I cannot agree with—the assumption that everyone has a right to health care. If we as a country feel that people have a basic right to health care, then the insurance mandate is necessary and mathematically sound.
I however, am quite annoyed with the idea that health care is a substance like air and water, that we should all have access to. I instead know that health care is a service provided by people who spent a lot of time and money in order to earn a living. And, you don’t have a right to that service if you cannot pay for it.
Our Constitution gives you the right to life, not the right to health care. A right to the life that genetics, nature, and dumb luck provides you.
Health care is a service that can extend that life, provided by professionals that offer that service, in order to earn a living. If you want a better and longer life, you have to pay them for it. Otherwise, when your time comes, that’s your time to go. It may seem heartless, but the circle of life is that all living things feed off of other living things and then eventually die themselves. Nothing gets out alive.
Let’s imagine a scenario where lives aren’t on the line for a minute. Your car breaks down, and you really need your car to get to work. So you take it to the mechanic. They advise you that you need a $500 repair, but you don’t have that kind of cash. Do you get to demand they help you and you’ll pay them later if you can?
Well, doctors are ultimately mechanics for humans. If they are willing to help for free, for a lesser fee than they’d charge medicare (Which is currently prohibited by law, believe it or not), or for a promise to pay in the future, then that’s great. Otherwise, the person needing care needs to find another doctor or accept the consequences of the life they chose and/or the bad fortune that befell them.
We have been taught that caring for others is just the right thing to do, and I agree, entirely. But, I don’t believe that doctors are heartless people who would never help anyone, and history shows this to be true. While some patient-dumping was common practice, it certainly wasn’t a unilateral action. Remember that many of them joined that profession because they love helping people.
But all free people should have the right to choose who we wish to help, who we can afford to help, and who doesn’t deserve our help. And the chronic meth head, alcoholic, and serial moocher are not on my list of acceptable benefactors.
Socialized medicine proponents often paint the picture that everyone who needs health care and can’t afford it are victims of society. But this is a false argument. Often, society is a victim of them, since we’re forced to pay for their care through higher prices, benefit fraud, and tax subsidies.
I think we all know people who can’t keep a good job because they drink too much, abuse their body, voluntarily miss work, don’t apply to begin with, and aren’t motivated to be successful—the type of people who work the hardest at how to afford work.
So then the abuse on their body catches up with them, and because they don’t have a job, they don’t have insurance. Now they need care because of their life choices, and they can’t afford that help. They are responsible for the life they’ve led, and they either need to find a way out of their troubles, or they will die as a martyred good example for others to not to be like them. Yet, under our current system, the rest of us become financially liable for them.
I’ve had a few people like this in my life because I don’t always hang out in the ritziest circles. I like some of these people dearly, but I also know that they are their own worst enemy, and the idea that society should take care of them is nonsense.
There is a phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect which says that the more safety you provide someone, the more risky behavior they will engage in. If you’ve seen someone driving like an idiot in the snow because they have a 4wd, you’ve seen the Peltzman Effect in action. If we want everyone to be self sufficient, we need to stop allowing people to so easily be dependent on others.
I believe that the only way to truly reduce health care expenses is to take away that safety net of guaranteed health care, take away government regulations that hinder competition, give doctors rights to work for a reduced rate if they choose to help the poor, introduce loser pays legislation and other legal reforms, and generally get the government out of the way of the health and insurance industry, letting the free market do what it does best; drive down costs.