Why Americans are short sighted
This is a kinder, gentler title than what I initially wanted. Just so you know.
Since the health care mandate case (or cases, really) was (were) argued in the Supreme Court last week, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the issue. For a couple of days there, I had to just keep my mouth shut all the time, because engaging in discussion over it threatens to explode my head. I just don’t understand people.
There is a lot of objection to the idea that federal government can tell you that you have to buy health care. And it seems that the way people address the issue, there is just the assumption that the government is trying to control us, trying to make us buy into their system, or trying to force us into a single payer system (which we should all want anyway, but that’s a different conversation).
I’m sorry, but how are so many people so clueless? How is it possible that so few people are considering the idea that the new health care law includes the mandate because it’s smart. It makes perfect sense. And it’s better for everyone involved. Seriously, if we could all just take off our government-is-evil-and-all-that-they-do-is-nefarious glasses for a sec? Bear with me here.
One of the new provisions of the health care mandate is that you cannot be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. I’m not going to waste time arguing the importance of that, because if you are opposed to it, I mostly just don’t want to know you. (I considered inserting a rant here about how America is the only industrialized nation to allow insurance companies to make a profit—or to not provide some kind of universal access to health care—and how it is disgusting and embarrassing that because of that we’ve ever allowed them to deny sick people coverage… but I’ve decided that’s a bit off topic and want to stick to the matter at hand.) Without a healthcare mandate—requiring everyone to buy into insurance or pay a fee if they don’t—insurance companies will now be required to cover more people who will need more expensive care without a way to make up that cost. And so they will end up charging higher premiums to cover their costs. So, sick people in America will go from not being able to get insurance at all, to not being able to get insurance because they can’t afford it. And, please, don’t argue with me about whether or not it’s our responsibility to make sure all sick people have access to healthcare. That’s another conversation that will make me realize I don’t want to know you.
With the mandate for everyone to have health insurance, we’d all be buying into the system. If you opt out, you pay a fee so that you are still buying into the system even though you’ve chosen not to have health insurance. (Why anyone would do that, I don’t know.) This will mean both that everyone can be covered by health insurance, and that it will be affordable. Since healthcare for the insured is currently costing American tax payers around $40 billion a year, this is the better option for everyone involved.
There is a reason the bill is called the Affordable Health Care Act. It’s an economic agenda. Requiring everyone to have health insurance will drive down the premiums for everyone, giving all of us better access to health care. It’s that simple. Objecting to the idea simply because the federal government is mandating it is obscene. Shortsighted is just not actually a strong enough word to describe that line of thinking.
Instead of focusing on all of this, however, people keep talking about broccoli. (Seriously, Scalia? And how is it that this stupid argument went mostly uncontested? Was Verrilli even trying? Whose side is he ON?) As though your decision to not buy broccoli might affect whether or not other Americans have access to broccoli. NOT. THE. SAME. THING. people. Please just read THIS, because I don’t want to talk about it anymore. (Worth noting in that article: the idea for the mandate came from the Heritage Foundation, an uber-conservative think tank. Priceless.)
The problem with us Americans is that we can’t see beyond our own spheres. We are a selfish individualistic people who can’t grasp what it means to be a part of and have responsibilities to a larger society. And we are so unbelievably wary of government—a government that we have ENTIRE control over—and obsessed with maintaining our “freedoms” and “liberties” that we are willing to let the private sector rob us blind and rip the fabric of society right from beneath our feet. And it makes me so frustrated I want to swear, damn it.