People with plenty of money can buy expensive cars, larger houses and fancier clothes. That’s great; good for them. However, money should not be a factor in determining who gets health care.
(Note: This is the first of an occasional series addressing the question in an earlier post, “What are we for?”)
The idea that socio-economic status should determine whether one has access to good healthcare is repugnant. There is no values-based defense of the belief. Anyone who truly thinks poor people – even “lazy” people – do not deserve proper care is among the vilest self-centered egotists around.
Am I being clear enough?
Not that the idea of universal healthcare should be anything new. Recognize the following?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Some will argue the second sentence of the United States Declaration of Independence, famous for noting the self-evident rights of all people, has no application to the availability of healthcare. Balderdash. Inadequate healthcare robs people of their happiness and, all too frequently, of life itself.
There are practical reasons, too.
Healthy people contribute more to society by being more productive in what they do and not having so many sick days. Catching a health issue before it explodes can save a lot of money and suffering. In fact, I suspect people in good physical shape are happier and less likely to cause other problems.
But, the money …
To be clear, I’m not just talking about providing medical care to poor people. Indeed, the best, fairest way is to make healthcare available to everyone.
We already have that to a degree. If someone does not get treated for influenza, pneumonia may develop. Without the money to pay for a doctor’s visit, that person does not get treated and the situation worsens. Eventually, sick enough, a visit is made to an emergency room.
Ever since the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, any hospital that takes Medicare or Medicaid may not refuse care in an emergency, even if the patient is incapable of paying and has no insurance.
Who, then, pays the hospital bill?
There is no simple answer, but overall, the hospital will eat part of the cost, taxpayers will cover some of it and more is passed along, through higher premiums, to people who do have insurance.
Yes, you read that correctly, you’re already paying for it.
But, it’s so complicated …
Indeed, but almost every other country you’d be willing to move to has figured it out. In fact, perhaps the first thing to do is to make it uncomplicated. Eliminating the briar patch that is modern medical insurance has to free up a lot of money that can be put back into care-giving.
Look, I’m no policy wonk, but I know we can come up with a system that is better than what we have now. Granted, some people and corporations that receive sinful amounts of money may take a hit in the pocketbook. Cry me a river.