Medical bankruptcies

I feel the need to follow up on something I’ve seen repeated about Monday’s post expounding on the value and morality of universal healthcare.

The remarks all took place on my Facebook page after I linked to the post. It’s nice when comments are made here so everything is tied together for all to see, but social media make it so easy to post that it’s difficult to make that happen. Regardless…

A common objection among people who voiced opposition to universal healthcare was made via referring to it as “free” healthcare.

I sure hope they don’t think they read that in my post. They didn’t.

Their comments caused me to wonder. Do they consider highways free? Law enforcement? National defense? Are those free because everyone enjoys them? Do they consider Social Security an entitlement?

Like public schools, libraries, fire departments, bridges, dams, garbage collection, landfills, parks, prisons, mass transit, street lights, border protection, weather forecasts, the court system … and so much more … universal healthcare would be paid for by we the people through our taxes.

When you call the fire department, you’re not asked if you have a job. When you drive to the library, you’re not required to prove you’re not lazy. When our nation goes to war to protect us from threats real and imagined, the military does not shield only those the government deems financially worthy.

The universal healthcare I want is one that covers people, even those I don’t like, and we all pitch in to fund it because, one, we’re humane, and, two, we may need it ourselves someday. How we pay for it deserves earnest attention and hard work, but making it a reality is important enough for us to do just that because saying someone is too poor to protect his or her health is immoral.

2 thoughts on “Free?”

  1. Steve- Two thoughts
    1. In your earlier post, your list of “rights” include Life, Liberty & the pursuit of happines. Universal healthcare does not guarantee life. Some diseases are, and likely always will be incurable. It doesn’t guarantee liberty – two distinct concepts. So – we are left with happiness. It seems you missed a word there too – pursuit. Universal healthcare is, at its core, a wealth transfer scheme – make some people who have money pay for something for others who don’t have, or make, enough to pay for it. The constitution, which you did not reference, and the Declaration of Independence do not not guarantee an outcome (healthcare for all). They only guarantee the opportunity to “pursue” a desired outcome.

    2. You object to people using the term “free”. The reality is that, if universal care is adopted some people will receive free care – they will not pay for anything because they don’t “earn” anything. Others will be forced, through taxation, to pay a disproportionate share of the total cost of healthcare. You may not like to face this but it is reality. The difference between roads, defense, border control and healthcare is this: my healthcare only benefits me. It is my responsibility.

    By the way – I love you and hope you call me next time you pass through the old stomping grounds. I’ll buy lunch and we can talk about the old days and all the things we still have in common.


    1. Working in reverse order to address the most pleasant first:
      I love you, too, Wylie, and you make an oft-overlooked point, we all still have so much in common. (You and I, though, share being the sole academic representatives to state UIL our senior year! Yeah, we rocked.) With my parents gone, I don’t really get back in that area anymore, but I’ll keep that in mind. You should also give me a yell if you venture into central Texas.
      2. I must disagree with your presumed difference between healthcare and other social services. Keeping others in better health certainly does benefit you, which I touched on in the original post. Untreated minor problems become major issues which most hospitals are obligated to address without assurance of payment with the cost being passed on to others in one form or another. Healthier people, I believe it’s safe to say, are likely to be more productive, to miss work less often, to have more time and money to spend in driving the economy and maybe even less likely to cause trouble. Healthy people are also more likely to work, period. And then there’s the whole thing of containing infectious diseases more quickly with better preventive care and prompter treatment.
      1. Your leap from “rights” to “guarantees” (a word used neither by me nor in the Declaration of Independence) is the flaw in your argument. It is also misleading to call it “my” list.
      Before going there, though, I acknowledge my use of the Declaration was purely for demonstrative purposes. Indeed, that document fulfilled its mission once our independence was achieved. Seriously, it was not taken at face value at the time. The first words of the second sentence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” were long ignored.
      Continuing through your points. No healthcare guarantees life; it cannot even guarantee health. But healthcare does increase the odds of healthy living and living longer. “Liberty” is the weakest of the three – and I submit one doesn’t have to satisfy all three – but one could argue a person who cannot obtain healthcare is, in a fashion, being held in bondage by those denying it. (A stretch, I admit.) Pursuit of happiness. With the help of Merriam-Webster: “to follow in order to overtake, capture, kill, or defeat” or “to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish” or “to proceed along” or “to engage in.” You say I missed the word pursuit, but I think the very definition of the word begs to be fulfilled by a healthy person.
      Then, bless you, you brought up the best point. “Universal healthcare is, at its core, a wealth transfer scheme.” My dear Wylie, the current for-profit healthcare system is nothing but a wealth transfer organization, a well-oiled machine that is emptying the pockets of those who can afford some sort of medical care and transferring the funds to huge insurance companies, to price-gouging pharmaceutical companies and, yes, to for-profit hospitals.
      There was one point you did not challenge. I pray it is because you do not believe some people or their children should be condemned to sickness and pain just because they are poor.
      A final thought: Next fall is a homecoming year and the 45th anniversary of our senior year. I think we should try to get our class together again.


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