Here's a nice piece that appeared in a local paper by a Lexington councilman.
David Cox in Rockbridge Weekly wrote:Health or Solvency?
HERE I STAND
This year I discovered the American health care system up close and personal. Darn it all. Except it made me well. So I’m not complaining. But I’m certainly sobered.
Three surgeries in seven months can do that.
Just last week I went in—and came out—for the most recent cutting. It went great. But as the preadmission caller told me beforehand, just for the privilege of using the operating room alone would cost more than the prize of a Caribbean vacation on “Wheel of Fortune.”
Fortunately, I have fantastic health insurance. My out-of-pocket expense was less than the cost of a vowel. Initially, anyway.
But the question keeps nagging me: What of those millions who don’t have any insurance at all, and who absolutely need the sort of surgery I had?
Today, the Supreme Court holds its unprecedented third day of hearings on the health care reform act of 2010. “Obamacare,” some deride it. “Obamneycare,” as certain GOP opponents of a certain candidate might name it, or “Romneycare-writ-large.” Politics aside, this is a big case, one whose complexities I barely understand.
What I do understand is this: We have a problem in this country. We may have the best medical care in the world: Some may debate the point, given how much healthier than ours some nations’ populations tend to be. As a happy customer, I think it’s pretty darn good.
But then, I didn’t have to pay for it, not anywhere near the full price. What about those who don’t have policies like mine?
Thirty years ago I was summoned to a hospital ICU, as pastor: A young man had ridden his motorcycle one night, without lights, without helmet, and without insurance. He scrambled his brains on a tree. For a week he lingered, on machines, in the most expensive site in the medical world, in the vain hope he might somehow come to. He didn’t. And along with the cost in human grief was the economic burden borne, not by him, nor the family (neither of whom could ever have afforded it), but by the hospital and state. We, collectively, paid the bill.
More recently a young student kept me updated on the progress of his pregnant wife. One day he reported that she went into the hospital, very early. There she stayed, weeks on end, until their son was born. There he, in turn, stayed, more weeks on end, until the parents could bring him home—healthy, thanks be. I asked if the student had insurance. “Oh yes,” he responded. “Your own?” “No way.” “Your parents’?” No. What, then?
We, collectively, paid the bill. Through taxes and higher insurance premiums, we bore the cost.
On one level, I’m glad we did. As a society, we value human life.
Therefore, though, society can’t abide hospitals turning away pregnant mothers or premature babies, nor kids brought in by ambulance after accidents no matter how stupidly those kids had acted.
Is it reasonable for society to foot every bill? Or, at what point do we, society, insist on some personal responsibility? (That, after all, was the point Mitt Romney made on his Massachusetts insurance mandate.)
Maybe requiring everyone to buy insurance isn’t constitutional. Maybe there’s a better way. But right now it’s the only solution out there I know of that really addresses the problem.
If the Supreme Court knocks down the mandate, so be it. If so, then we as a nation simply have to figure out a workable alternative that does pass constitutional muster. Private enterprise alone can’t figure it out: If private enterprise could solve it, it would have done so already; and, besides, private enterprise isn’t picking up the tab even now (see above examples).
For unless we do, we as a nation will end up neither healthy nor solvent.
(PS: I remain ecstatically grateful for the care I received from our system, and the health it restored.)