Government, Health Care, and Law

Should health care be limited to the insured?

November 30, 2013
Print
Text Size:
A A
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Health care costs are affected by health care providers passing on the cost for caring for the uninsured to the insured. Courtesy Thinkstock

Opponents of Obamacare have been justly criticized for not having an alternative plan in case Obamacare is repealed. An answer is easily at hand. There could be a real alternative solution to our health coverage and cost problems.

One key discussion point is the matter of requiring people to purchase health insurance if they can afford it. This was a key issue in the Supreme Court consideration of the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Can you make people buy something they don’t want?

Libertarian-leaning people simply say the government shouldn’t require people to buy something they don't want. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? After all, insurance costs money, and I’m sure that we’d rather do other things with our money than insure against illness or injury.

Hence Obamacare must be an unreasonable intrusion on our lifestyle and ought to be repealed. Right?

Passing on cost

However, there is another side of the matter than pure individual liberty. One person’s liberty can intrude on others.

Our hospitals have legal obligations to care for people, regardless of their insurance status. Various laws have been enacted over the years to require hospitals to serve all comers to their emergency rooms and obstetrics departments. 

But hospitals are businesses that don’t want to face payless paydays or unpaid-for MRI scanners. The requirement to serve all simply causes a hospital to pass the costs of the uninsured patients along to the insured ones — to the point that approximately one-third of the charges to insured people go to pay for the uninsured. The hospital can make ends meet and serve all, even though only some pay for this.

It doesn’t take rocket science for someone to understand that freedom-loving insured people are racking up higher charges in order to care for the uninsured. Is this fair? Why shouldn’t the insured person be able to say, “I only want to pay for the care I might get and not for others? I don’t care about those who don’t take the individual responsibility to cover their own costs?”

Uninsured care

There is a simple answer to all of this.

We could agree that people who don’t want to cover their own costs should be free to be uninsured — if the hospitals are also free to not provide care. In this way, the hospitals needn’t run up costs that would be passed along to the insured people.

Laws requiring hospitals to care for all should be repealed. The uninsured take a chance that they won’t need care, and they might lose. This could be health care’s version of, "No shoes, no shirt, no service.”

We should call upon our representatives in Congress to free our hospitals from the expensive obligation to care for the uninsured and allow the rest of us to enjoy paying only our own costs. Isn’t this the obvious alternative? If we don’t have to worry about the uninsured, we won’t need Obamacare. What could be simpler? If we only pay for ourselves, our costs logically should go down.

But there are some people who say we need to care for our fellow uninsured men and women and need to tend to their illnesses and injuries — even if they can insure themselves.

Some might suggest that our humanity is at issue. If so, let them pay for it.

If we honestly believe that people don’t have a responsibility to cover themselves if they can, shouldn’t we confer a responsibility to live with the consequences?

Comments powered by Disqus