Health care is always a popular topic here on She’s Right, for whatever reason, so I thought I would share with you an epiphany I had this weekend while away for the Thanksgiving holiday.
My mother-in-law and I were talking about politics and she revealed that the two most important issues for her – nationally – are ensuring that all Americans have health insurance coverage and reducing the amount of money we give to foreign countries.
She said that it isn’t right that there are people who do not have health insurance in this country. I was a little taken aback at her bleeding-heart liberalism, but then she followed it up by saying that it drives up the costs for everyone else when people without coverage use the emergency room for their health needs.
So we started discussing the different solutions. I am firmly opposed to a government-administered insurance plan. We discussed some of the problems with that system, mainly cost containment and waiting lists, and agreed that in America, we would not want to eliminate the private insurance option.
I brought up the fact that there are three groups of people without insurance: those who cannot afford it, but qualify for government help already; those who cannot afford it, but do not qualify for government help; and those who can afford it, but choose not to. The middle group is really the only one that needs a new solution and to me that is not a “crisis” of the magnitude that the rhetoric suggests.
However, all three groups, or at least the first two, contribute to the problem she spoke of, misuse of the emergency room resulting in increased costs for the rest of us.
If that is the problem – that we all pay for the uninsured anyway, but not in the most economical way – then what is the solution to that?
I brought up the Massachusetts plan, in which everyone is required to have health insurance. Back in April, I blogged about it here. It is worthwhile to take a look at that post if you need a refresher on that plan.
In it, I said,
“I do not agree that the government has the right to force free citizens to buy health insurance coverage for the sole purpose of obtaining a statistic that they arbitrarily deemed desirable.”
I still agree with that statement. Unfortunately, in the real world there is always a but.
I do not agree that the government has the right to force free citizens to buy health insurance, but if it is decided that the government is going to make sure everyone has health insurance, that is the best way of doing it that I have heard to date.
It is the only plan that maintains the private system and minimizes government intervention, while ensuring that there is no one left uninsured.
I wasn’t about to tell my mother-in-law that I disagreed with her that we need to make sure everyone has insurance, so I was left having to actually decide which way I would like the government to go about accomplishing that goal. It was an interesting thought experiment with a surprising outcome, considering that only seven months ago, I was against the Massachusetts plan.
In reality, we are at or near the point where the majority of Americans will support the idea that the government needs to make sure we all have health insurance coverage. It is going to happen, regardless of how I feel about it. The question now becomes: How do we do it?
It’s worthwhile for everyone to at least consider that question. I would hate to see anyone left out of the process of finding a solution – least of all, those who oppose the single-payer option.