Right now, there’s a lot of debate about how to “fix” the health care “problem.” However, I’m not sure we have defined the problem clearly. It seems most of the problems are defined in terms of some politician’s or PAC’s solution.
The “universal health care” option is being sold with the mantra “No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”
Sounds good on the surface. It’s a tragedy when a personal illness forces someone into bankruptcy. I’ve seen it happen – a friend had just started his new job (after being out of work for some months) when he found out his wife was pregnant. The doctor determined that the pregnancy started a couple weeks before he signed into the company, so the “pre-existing condition” was not covered. It became a burden when she delivered early and the preemie went into the state hospital’s neonatal ICU. By the time the daughter went home, the bill was over half a million dollars. His job as assistant manager of a fast food chain store could never cover that cost, and they chose bankruptcy. (That was Massachusetts.)
The baby received the care it needed, and the state had to pay the costs. There were consequences, but there are always consequences in life.
If instead, the dad had finished high school with more than a barely passing grade, he would have found insurance earlier. If there were effective public health clinics, she might have carried the baby to term. And if the government had had free universal health care, it’s doubtful there would have been enough medical advances to keep the child alive to become a vibrant toddler.
We feel for the plight of the underinsured and the uninsured, but taking away choices doesn’t make the system better.