21 September 2007

Response to "Prove What?"

An interesting point was made in a comment to "Prove What?": "...how is a law mandating health insurance different from a law mandating car insurance?" Good question. I think the answer is fairly simple.

The kind of auto insurance that is required by most states is liability insurance. That insurance is not bought to protect the buyer, it is required to protect the other guy. So, if person A causes an accident, person B doesn't get socked with any (or all) costs from the accident. If person A only has liability insurance, he has no recourse to his insurance company or person B. Thus, mandatory auto insurance doesn't protect the driver who buys it, it protects others from the effects of his poor driving (assuming an accident, of course). If a person wants to protect himself, he must buy comprehensive and/or collision insurance. A person's lender may require these types of insurance, but government agencies, to my knowledge, don't.

Mandatory health care, "universal" health care, or whatever folks call it, essentially attempts to protect a person from himself, his body. And while this may seem quite reasonable at the outset, there is a very slippery slope here. In fact, Senator Clinton and Mr. Edwards have already spoken of it. It comes in the form of punitive measures and mandatory actions (preventative care). Do them, or else.

But I think that the mandatory, "universal" health care issue gets to a deeper point, and one that we might be uncomfortable with. Liberty is a fundamental aspect of our society. We are allowed to do things which are not good for us as long as it doesn't infringe on the liberty of others. I believe that mandatory auto insurance is a good example of protecting others from our stupidity. Secondary smoke - not so much, yet government agencies around the world are busy mandating who can smoke where. (Just so I'm not misread, I would gladly choose a smoke-free establishment if given the choice.)

Given the premise of government controlled (and it will be, make no mistake) health care, I believe it is a sure bet that poor self-choices will be, shall we say, "regulated." Eating habits, mandatory preventative care, weight monitoring, smoking, drinking, etc. - all of these things and more would conceivably fall under the "universal health" umbrella. And it won't be to save your skin or my skin, but rather to save the government money. The $110 billion price tag for Senator Clinton's plan is low-ball. Remember, we were told that prescription drug assistance would only cost so much.

1 comment:

kmb said...

first, thank you for your response and for the kitten picture. :) she is lovely. second, excuse all typos as The Boy insists on laying partially on the keyboard of the laptop. finally, i've yet to finish a full cup of coffee this a.m. so responses may not be as well-spoken as i would like.

i agree that we are free only to the extent that we do not harm others. i live by this philosophy personally. i really feel like i (we) are in the minority in this. you mentioned second-hand smoke and it's an excellent example: in spite of clear and convincing evidence that secondhand smoke is Very Bad, people still blithely smoke in public, around their children, in confined spaces, etc. they are free to do so even though it infringes upon the good of everyone around them. my point is that people have been given the opportunity to Do the Right Thing, and yet consistently they do the hedonistic thing. I mean to say that “in this day and age” thought for the well-being of our fellows is an increasingly infrequent and even unpopular (“gotta look out for number 1”) practice.

Universal healthcare addresses that somewhat: we are protected ourselves AND we are protected from our fellows who do not mind harming themselves and others in the process AND putting the burden of healthcare costs onto everyone else. To me it seems like we already pay for the uninsured with higher healthcare and pharmaceutical costs across the board. People might as well get something tangible for it and have healthcare costs lowered for everyone in the process.

But still, I think people should have the OPTION to utilize such a system and not be forced to do so. I need to look into this further and see what else Clinton is saying about this issue.

My final thought on healthcare is this: I make a good living. I have savings. I own assets. I do not live paycheck to paycheck. I do not smoke and I am in reasonably good health, free (as far as I know) from debilitating disease. I still cannot afford health insurance, and therefore am uninsured. Making healthcare more affordable is something I am very interested in.

(This became a very long comment. :))