The Real Problem with Health Insurance
Want to know the real problem with healthcare "insurance" in this nation? It’s not federal overbearance; not liberty-robbing purchase mandates; not unscrupulous doctors nor pill-pushing pharmaceutical companies. The fact is the real issue is your, mine and everybody's attitude towards health insurance. Or, put more accurately, our misconception of what healthcare insurance is truly supposed to be. The issue is one of mental conditioning. You and I have been conditioned to believe that healthcare insurance is something that it is not. Or at least that it was not intended to nor should it be. We have become conditioned to not be self-reliant but rather to depend upon the system to "take care of us."
In a television interview President Obama once compared health insurance to automobile insurance, which is a totally ridiculous comparison but for the sake of conversation, okay, let’s compare.
You smack your car into another and the repair bill comes in at $3,300. You file an insurance claim. You have a policy for the express reason of accidental, catastrophic loss. No one buys an auto insurance policy and then expects the insurance company to cover windshield wiper changes, tire rotation, air and oil filters. You pay for those things out of your own pocket. You are self-reliant for the more trivial, mundane expenses; are insured for the larger, non-routine unexpected ones.
Healthcare insurance, however, is the opposite. As is the case in so many other areas of our society, we’ve been conditioned to an entitlement mentality toward healthcare insurance; to believe that we are entitled to something at little or no cost to ourselves. Insurance should be a safety net. Something that’s there in the event the worst should happen; i.e. to cover catastrophic event(s). But instead of being the safety net it was intended to and should be, it has now become a sidewalk.
When the mechanic tells you it’s time for brakes and we may as well service your tranny while it's in, what's the first question you ask? When you go to the doctor and she says she'd like to send you to the lab or a clinic to draw some blood and have you pee in a cup so they can run a battery of tests you don't ask the doctor, "How much is that going to cost?" Why don't you ask? Because you don't care. Someone else is paying for it. You're just going to show up at the clinic, present an insurance card at the counter, pay your $20 co-pay and the balance -- how every many hundreds or thousands of dollars that is -- you don't have to worry about. Someone else is paying that.
This mentality is pervasive in America and as we conservatives have been screaming for centuries -- it is unaffordable. It is a system leading to an economic model that cannot support its own weight. And of course that’s exactly what we see happening today. The bills coming due at the culmination of decades of wrong-thinking.
Right now the healthcare services consumer in American pays only about twelve cents per dollar spent on healthcare services. The other eighty-eight cents is paid by someone else. We see it as being paid ‘by insurance’ but of course the insurance company isn't just coughing that money up, they're paying for it via premiums charged our friends, family and neighbors – “someone else.”
In this area we have lost the sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility we once had in this nation. Healthcare insurance should be there in the event you are stuck by lightning, run over by a bus, come down with gizzard cancer, etc. Not to cover a test to see if you're vitamin D deficient.
This system of “everyone else pays for everyone's non-payment” runs directly into Margaret Thatcher's commentary on socialism -- that sooner or later you run out of other people's money. Well, we've run out. Ran out long ago. But rather than fix this system that’s imploding upon itself we are instead doubling down on a completely unresurrectable scheme by plunging even deeper into the "someone else pays" model and worse yet, expecting those "someone's" to be the same 22 to 30-year-olds who were (a) exempted from having to participate in the system until their 27th birthday and, (b) the people whom on national television the First Lady described as "knuckleheads" who are “cooking for the first time” (at age 26) and “dancing on barstools.”
The Department of H.H.S. is now a trillion-dollar line item in the federal budget and those responsible for paying that bill are believed to be knuckleheads by the very administration that's charged them with covering the tab. Yet these people actually think this will work.
The context of the previously-mentioned health vs. auto insurance question surrounded the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The president commented that he “doesn’t see anyone complaining about mandates to have car insurance.” Which is a wholly false statement. There is no such mandate. Tens of millions of Americans have no car insurance because millions of people have no car, driver’s license, or both. What need would a blind person have of auto insurance? Millions who live in our metropolitan areas do not own automobiles. I’ve been there. You’re constantly racking up parking tickets as finding parking places is near impossible, renting space in a garage somewhere like Manhattan can run $600 per month or more, gas is expensive, traffic a headache, and public transportation can get you anywhere in less time than it takes to drive anyway. So they simply choose to not own a car and therefore have no car insurance.
While there is no car insurance mandate, one can imagine the outcry were such a mandate passed into law. In this example those with no need of auto insurance would be compelled by the government to purchase it, their money shipped into a general pool of funds from which subsidies could then be doled out to those who do have need of auto insurance but struggle to be able to afford it. Under the law, Matt in Manhattan has no car but pays $300 monthly for car insurance. A portion of his premiums are used to assist Pat in Peoria who commutes 30 miles to work each day and must have a car and car insurance but who also has been at-fault in four accidents in the past six years plus racked up a D.U.I. Her premiums are just too high and she needs some government ‘help’.
Imagine in this example that representatives on Capitol Hill of the car-owners outnumbered the non-car owners and indeed possess a filibuster-proof supermajority. To be certain the non-car-owners would be furious over this legislative arrangement but lacking political clout, adequate organization and numbers find themselves powerless to do much more than watch the roll call and vote (at 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve) on CSPAN and gaze helplessly as their rights and ability to choose not to purchase car insurance evaporates before their eyes.
Few have ever looked at it this way but, from an elemental perspective, what’s the difference? Those with little or no need being forced to help pay for those who do. It’s a collectivist’s utopia. The problem of course has been proven time and time again -- collectivism doesn’t work. Sadly, it appears as if we’re destined to prove it at least one more time.