While rare situations do occur where one is refused medical coverage because they do not have health insurance, it is certainly the exception. In our current system, we do not have a pandemic problem of refusing care to those who don’t have insurance. It’s due to the same principle that if you see an injured person on the street, you feel an unwritten moral responsibility to help that person. If you don’t, while you may not be criminally charged, you could be sued under civil law under a negligence tort for example. I would argue that one reason that a hospital would refuse care would be due to the excess demand for care in emergency rooms. Doctors can’t treat everyone and some are bound to end up wanting. This problem will only worsen with a government run system.
I have heard the argument many times that current policy holder’s end up paying for the uninsured in the form of increased insurance premiums. While it is correct that insurance companies pool risk, just remember, it is usually the most risky that are insured in the first place. It is simple “adverse selection.” Adverse selection means that the individual’s demand for insurance is positively correlated with the individual’s risk of loss or injury. So a risk tolerant person is more likely than a risk averse person to have a health insurance policy. I will also argue that moral hazard plays an important role in this. Once we insure the masses, their behavior will likely change and become more tolerant to risk, thereby causing an increase in demand for medical attention. How can we possibly treat so many new people with the no increase in the amount of doctors providing that care? In fact, who on earth would want to become a doctor when the costs incurred during med school alone will clearly outweigh the benefits of being a doctor. We all know that payments to doctors will be as little as possible if the government takes over the system (we see this already with Medicare) and it will be virtually impossible for a doctor to make a profit, much less a living. So the inevitable result will be that the supply of healthcare providers will decrease while the demand for healthcare will significantly increase. We will have to deal with a severe shortage of health treatment. This is when the government begins to explore the rationing of care.
Do you really think that costs will decrease if there is a government health system? You may have a comparable monthly premium, but if you account for the massive tax increases that must accompany this policy, you will see that your costs will increase significantly! Consider this argument too…premiums are so high because there are a multitude of regulations requiring insurers to cover a multitude of unnecessary illnesses and injuries. A 20 or 30 year old, for example, should not have to buy a health care policy that covers Alzheimer’s or elderly care, or a woman should not have to purchase maternity care if she cannot medically bear children. If the government would just rescind these ridiculous regulations, there would be a strong market for a wide range of insurance policies that would be offered at various rates depending on the coverage promised. What a simple solution that would be…and cheap!
Our current system is certainly not perfect, but it is not broken. It is still one of the best in the world. I would argue if President Obama is so concerned that the uninsured person may have some sort of a catastrophic injury and not be able to foot the bill, why doesn’t he just set up a fund to give grants to those who really DO have such an event in their life. That way, government can help only those who really need it without forcing others who don’t need it and don’t want it to pay for a forced insurance policy. While that solution is not optimal either, it is certianly better than a complete overhaul and government takeover of the health system.
Let’s consider auto insurance for a moment. It is important to note that we are only required to carry liability insurance. The reason is simple. It is because our vehicles can cause irreparable harm or death to another person who had no choice in the matter. You must also take note that we are NOT required to retain comprehensive and collision coverage (unless we have a lien on our car, for which that reason is obvious). We must only maintain liability coverage due to the incredibly high risk of our vehicle (which if it has a lien, is owned by someone else) damaging the property of, seriously injuring, or killing a third party. It’s all about the high probability of very dangerous negative externalities. With health coverage, we would not cause irreparable harm to another by injuring ourselves and going to the doctor. We are only directly harming ourselves. In fact, I’ve gone to the doctor without insurance and I guarantee, no one else paid for it, they sent me the bill…and quickly I might add.
My final argument is that while the uninsured may make the premiums of the insured go up to some extent, another lower cost way to fix that problem would be for the government to just compensate doctors for treating those uninsured people? That would create an incentive for doctors to treat those who can’t pay and remove the problem all together.
It seems to me that the ones who are always so “willing” to pay more taxes to help the “poor” are usually the ones who are squawking about higher insurance rates and want a government take over of the system? Just take your higher insurance rates as your gift to the uninsured poor person. Wouldn’t you say?