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Editorial: The Selfishness of Socialized Medicine

hartley-postThis past week I met a man who is working to adopt President Obama’s vision of health care. He kept claiming that 47 million people don’t have health care in America. After listening for a couple of minutes I pointed out that everyone has health care at the ER even if they can’t pay. He disagreed. He said people with pre-existing conditions can’t get care. I again pointed to the ER. He told me I was ignorant of the facts so I asked him to explain.

Fifteen years ago he was young, trying to start a business and “could not afford” health insurance. He developed a hernia. Because his particular situation is not life threatening, he can’t get it surgically repaired without paying “$10,000.”

I pointed out to him that decisions have consequences. He chose to roll the dice on health care and lost. Now, because of his poor decision, he expects others to pay when he would not. He is an angry man who would forever condemn us to government control over our health decisions in order to get others to pay for his surgery. I pointed out that he could have saved a little every month over the past 15 years and paid for his own surgery. His response was not pretty!

His selfishness demands that I forever exchange my personal responsibility and freedoms to pay for his bad decisions and juvenile wants. He would have government direct every aspect of my life to relieve him of his personal responsibility. That is the height of selfishness.

There are serious flaws in our system that needs addressing. Any system that serves 300 million people will always need refining, but don’t allow the exceptions to ruin the best health care system on the planet.

Rick Hartley

1 Responses »

  1. For Rick Hartley, emergency medical treatment represents adequate health care. Few people unfortunate enough to have spent time in an ER, either with or without insurance, are likely to agree - even the medical practitioners who work there. But that aside, the cost of maintaining emergency rooms and sophisticated trauma centers are spread across the universe of health care consumers, and they still require public subsidies. They exist to respond to people in crisis. It's more rational and efficient to keep people like Mr. Hartley's herniated friend out of the ER by ensuring that they have access to skilled preventive and corrective medicine - even if some of us may feel that they don't really deserve it.

    An insurance company employee presently decides what health care I may or may not have access to. That fact that I have a history of making shrewd, informed choices (including buying the best insurance I can) does not enter into that person's decisions about my medical treatment. Whether I'm healthy or sick, what matters is the insurance company's profit. Private health insurance is a gamble, in which I am betting that I'll get sick, and the insurance company is betting I won't. However, it's a sucker's bet for me. The insurance company holds all the cards, owing to their power to make the medical decisions for me. And if I get sick enough, I'll die - which improves the average health of the insurer's coverage pool. As in Vegas, the house always wins.

    I'd rather make my own health care decisions, but few of us really do. Failing that, I'd prefer that a salaried government employee (paid by you and me) makes decisions according to publicly transparent rules, rather than an insurance company claims adjustor whose principal obligation is to her stockholders.

    Health-care reform isn't actually about health care. As Mr. Hartley concludes, we already have the best health care system in the world. The proposal for a public option should be renamed "health-insurance reform." Whatever you want to call it, though, I say bring it on.