Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our snotty attitude toward health care

I'm writing this blog in part because I can't sleep.

I can't sleep because I have what appears to be a sinus infection, which makes it hard for me to lie down, let alone drift off into dreamland.

I've suffered from this three times in the past two and a half years. The last two times, I was able to pop into a clinic and obtain some prescribed antibiotics. I was able to do that because I had health insurance. But now I don't, so I have to hope DayQuil and expired Mucinex do the trick. Maybe some Vitamin C drops if my budget allows. In the meantime, I can only hope I don't infect anybody around me (a tough call given that it's Festival weekend, and as a job-seeker I stay home enough as it is). 

All of that got me thinking about something I've heard in the past, that some people choose not to have health insurance. It's one argument people often use against universal health care, the idea being that such a mandate would infringe upon the right to be free.

I've had several friends and co-workers in the past who opted out of available health plans, and you'd be hard-pressed to find much ideological unity among them. To a person, they said they didn't feel the cost was worth the risk. I can understand that line of thinking, even if I don't agree with it. (Side note: One of them wound up in the ICU after a freak accident, and bore a tremendous cost as a result.)

But I wonder: is there any reason other than cost for which someone would refuse insured health care? That's the case for me; keeping my health insurance from my last job would have cost $400 a month, which is a tough go when you're unemployed. And yet, many critics of health care reform tell me that there's some noble foundation of freedom at play here. If there is, I don't see it. It always seems to come down to being broke, or trying not to be broke.

And if the bottom line's strictly what it's about, then it's inexcusable to have the health care system we have in America. Scratch that — it's just sick.

1 comment:

Jason said...

The objection is typically over the individual mandate, and while I agree with the ends it seeks, I don't agree with the means. Coming from me this may sound odd, but I do think that the mandate oversteps constitutional authority. A couple of left-leaning lawyer friends I have spoken with agree.

There is of course a solution to that problem. Congress can use their clearly defined ability to tax to reach the same means. Institute a single payer system, which is the only type of system that will significantly control costs long-term, and reach the same ends with a fully defensible and appropriate means.