Bad Choices

I had a lot of arguments with the anti-reform people while I was holding a sign outside three of the Town Hall meetings last month. I sought common ground in the proposal that no one should suffer or die from lack of health care. The response was that people make ‘bad choices’ and stuff happens.

I had pointed out that young people out of school and not yet in a good paying job are especially likely to lack health insurance. Americans are dying unnecessarily. Working people are risking their health and lives because they can’t afford insurance and they can’t afford medical bills. How do you make ‘good choices’ when there are none? Kimberly Young gambled on her youth and health and lost, dying of the flu…

Her roommate’s mother said Young worked several jobs, none of which offered insurance. She eventually went to a public hospital’s emergency room after showing signs of kidney failure and dehydration. In critical condition, she was soon after transferred to another facility, where she died.

The people I argued with, who enjoyed their government benefits but rallied to prevent others from getting the same were showing us one path we might follow. Limited vision, harsh judgment on anyone who falls out of the system, and a deep fear that they might end up excluded too. In a new millennium we can look back on Charles Dickens’ world and see our own reflection.

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2 responses

  1. I think we sometimes allow emotion, not always based on fact, to invade our judgement of issues objectively. We all do and no one is “objective,” and how dull the world would be if we we that cold and calculating. We should do our best however to be clear-headed. We are a nation of some 330 million or so. Of this number, various totals of supposedly uninsured have been tossed around–everywhere from 50 million to 10 million–50 million seems to high, 10 million too low. No one really knows and the basis for any number is tied up with sampling statistics or speculation, so informed, some not. It does appear that 10-15 million of about 40 million are illegals. These folks do flood our emergency rooms and there are good stattics about them and they have seriously damaged medical care for Americans by the economic drain on hospital resources, as well as the economic damage they do elsewhere. So, of 40 million, if we say there are 12-15 million illegals, we are left with 28-25 million or so uninsured Americans. Of this number, there seems to be at least some data that 10 million have incomes above $75,000/year and just choose not to buy themselves insurance. Most pay for any medical care in cash or use credit cards. We are then left with 15-18 million uninsured, most of whom want insurance but cannot pay the full cost. Many of these people do receive some medical care via stae of federal programs, but clearly would be better off with insurance of some kind.

    First the fact is then, that less than 10 % of Americans lack insurance (90-93% have insurance is the converse). It makes zero economic sense to put in place trillion dollar-plus expenditures (that’s 1000 billion in a trillion) to find insurance for 12-15 million people. If reasonable insurance cost $1000-2000/year/person, the cost would be $12-24 billion, not trillions to change a system in place and that works for 905-plus of all Americans.

  2. Kimberly Young represents a demographic most likely to lack insurance. One of the RW sites blamed her for not seeking a free clinic, but I can understand being too sick to seek one out and get in line. The free clinic in Providence has people lining up before dawn.
    A sane system would have access, people could call their doctor, get advice on whether to come in, and go to the emergency room for acute problems without fearing debts they can’t pay.
    Other countries manage to do it. All of them have problems and all systems will always have problems. But like they say, let not the perfect be the enemy of the good. Insuring all Americans would be very good.
    People are actually very valuable, if we need to stay away from emotion. A death like that is very wasteful. Her parents are still probably paying her college debt.

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