I normally do not use this forum for political topics. Frankly, no one gives a shit about my opinion. Nor will my arguments sway anyone else’s opinion. So many of my social media friends rant and rave, but it falls on deaf ears. Your liberal friends will always agree with your liberal raves, and your conservative friends will always agree with your conservative rants.
If you don’t have friends with apposing views, then you probably need to open up your mind and your heart.
But this healthcare debate drives me nuts. Not because I am an insensitive lout, but because there is a fairness issue at stake. Liberals will be the first to scream, “that’s not fair!”
Well in today’s society, universal health care is not fair. Why, you ask. Because those that will consume the most will contribute the least, and those that contribute the most will consume the least.
Smokers for example. Most everyone will agree, the vast majority of smokers are lower income individuals. And most everyone will agree that over time, smokers will likely consume more health care than non-smokers. Since as a group, they are lower income, they pay little or no taxes. Aside from the gouging our governments do with taxes on their vice. Since they pay little or no taxes, they will get far more out of a universal healthcare system than I will.
What about the obesity epidemic we have in this country. I will argue that it is a far bigger blight on our society than tobacco or alcohol ever was or will be. It spans all ages, races, groups, and classes, and there are no respectable laws that limit access to calories, or mandate exercise. However, according to OECD, obese people tend to suffer an economic disadvantage. Therefore, once again, those who are obese probably will not contribute as much towards a universal healthcare system than those who are not obese.
I understand that those who lean to the left love FDR’s principal of, “Taxation according to income is the most effective instrument yet devised to obtain just contribution from those best able to bear it and to avoid placing onerous burdens upon the mass of our people.”
In my opinion, this flies smack dab in the face of the fairness doctrine the left touts, but that is not what this post is about.
People who have done well in life, tend to be healthier than those who did not “win life’s lottery” [sic]. Those who have not done as well in life, tend to live an unhealthier lifestyle. They are more likely to smoke, drink in excess, and take less care with their nutritional needs. They also less likely to live an active lifestyle.
As a result, they consume more health care.
There was a time when health care was not so readily available. Especially for the poor. Am I arguing we go back to a time when stepping on a nail meant a slow painful death. No. But in those days, people knew that if they got sick, came down with some sort of infection, or broke something, they were probably on their own. As a result, most people took steps to protect themselves. They used care when going about their daily lives, and ate as healthy as their means allowed. In fact, since cheap, nutrition-less food was not readily available in the “good old days,” the poor had to get as much nutrition out of their limited resources as they could. They very likely passed on the tub of ice cream in favor of a bag of potatoes.
Remember growing up and your grandmother chastising you when you asked for that bag of potato chips? “Those are not good for you.”
Of course that same grandmother used to tell me to eat my fat, because it was good for me. But I digress.
It is because of the easy availability of health care, among other factors, that we do very little to prevent illness. If it goes beyond getting an immunization, or buying a FitBit, we don’t want anything to do with it.
No one can argue that as a society we are doing less than ever to prevent illness. The poorer we tend to be, the worse it is.
A universal healthcare system will just exacerbate this issue. It is a fact of life, that if you don’t have to pay for something, you are going to use it without regard to how much you consume. If there is no direct financial consequences for your actions, then you will continue to do them without regard to the final outcome. After all, no one thinks they will get sick. And if they do, well hell, modern medicine can fix it. I can just take a pill.
With all that being said, I know we will never go back to a system where you pay for only the insurance we want or need. Everyone wants everything to be covered. We do not ever want to be held financially responsible for our actions. We want lung cancer covered; especially if we smoke two packs a day of unfiltered cigarettes. We want that triple bypass covered because our primary cook works at the golden arches. We want that prosthetic paid for in the event we are trying our hand at juggling for the first time with running chainsaws. When it comes to medical bills, we never want to be inconvenienced by our poor decisions and behavior.
I understand that life is a shit sandwich and we all are forced to take a bite sometimes. Too often, otherwise healthy people are afflicted with illness. I get that. But is universal healthcare and mandatory insurance coverage the answer?
How about instead, we setup catastrophic insurance for those unfortunate individuals who face something their major medical just does not cover. For the smokers, lets take all the taxes the state and federal government collects from tobacco products and put them in a fund. This fund will cover those healthcare costs that are smoking related. John smoker has major medical. It covers 80% of whatever comes his way, except lung cancer. John smoker goes to the doctor because he is coughing up blood. Surprise, John smoker has lung cancer. His medical insurance bows out, his lung cancer is not covered because John smoker would not pay the higher premiums the insurance company wanted because John refused to quit smoking. Johns doctor submits a simple form (really hoping to avoid a huge bureaucracy here) and the Stupid Smoker Cancer fund picks up John’s lung removal and covers his oxygen bottles for the rest of his wheezing life.
Those taxes the state collects on soda pop could go towards a fund that will support obesity related illnesses. Maybe the feds can tack on and additional percentage point for a federal level fund. After all we can’t leave them out of this. Nothing is managed better than when it is managed from Washington. Along with that tax on soda pop, the feds can levy a tax on fast food. I do not think it has to be much. Again, a percentage point or two. But here again, we run into the problem of unfairly taxing the poor. After all, they are the biggest consumers of fast food. As a solution, we can apply the FDR philosophy, and levy a slightly higher tax on blue collar style restaurants, and then a slightly higher tax on what we would call fancy restaurants.
These aforementioned taxes can once again go into a dedicated fund. Said fund will help those who are not insured for illnesses related to their lifestyle to pay for their inevitable medical care. When Mr. Big Mac has that quadruple bypass, the Fat Fund will kick in and pay for those medical expenses not covered by his traditional medical insurance. Then he will not have to give up his $20,000 fishing boat next year to pay for his poor choice in diet.
After all, the goal of universal health care is to make sure no one is responsible for their life’s choices.
These healthcare funds will have to be protected by law from those who we trust to guard them. It would be troublesome if after a couple of decades they are going broke because congress, or some state legislature “borrowed” from them to pay for new office buildings, or to save some mismanaged public employee pension plan.
Then, someone like myself, who gave up his unhealthy habits, wears a filter mask when doing home improvements, wears his seat belt, exercises regularly, and takes care and pride in what I eat, will not have to be burdened with health insurance premiums that cover crap I will never use. Seriously, I don’t need health insurance to cover mammograms. If colonoscopies were not mandated coverage, I would have skipped mine. I made it this far without one, I could have survived the next twenty years without one. Seriously, I could have, it came back clean.
One final point on this topic, then I will let it rest…for now.
Why do we put such a high value on life? I am fifty-one years old. At least that is what I think I am without doing the math. I would like to think I am a little over half way. Maybe even half way if I can keep up the good work. However, if I were stricken with some form of cancer that offered little chance for survival, no matter how hard I fought, I probably would not bother to fight it at all.
Here is why.
Even though the last nineteen years of my life has been a complete suck-fest, I have had a good run. I raised three wonderful children, realized some of my dreams, and eventually found happiness in my personal life. Job done, everything else is a bonus. If fighting off the cancer only prolongs the inevitable, then why spend the money and my children’s inheritance to do so?
Don’t get me wrong, if it is something that most people beat, and live another twenty years with a good quality of life, then I am in. Let me emphasize, good quality of life. If my dignity is undermined in a major way, then quality of life is out the window. If I need to change my colostomy bag, no dignity. If I can no longer enjoy the simple things in life, like a walk in the park, or passion with my spouse, there is a distinct lacking in the quality of life department.
Life is not life without living.
Now fast forward twenty years and I am in my seventies. I am diagnosed with some form of cancer. Beatable or not, I am going to have to take a loooooong look at where I am in life. In my opinion nothing is more selfish than clinging to a pathetic excuse for life while wiping out everything you worked for to maintain that life. We used to leave our kids an inheritance, now we leave it to corporations who provide hospice care and senior living.
Let it go people!
If those later years are going to be painful, and my quality of life severely hampered, then maybe my last purchase will be a power chair. Then I know I can get my frail old body in front of that speeding commuter train, and bring a quick end to this thing called life.