With the Supreme Court decision coming down on the side of the health care mandate, and thus upholding the entirety of the “Obamacare” bill, a lot of people are upset. Their frustration, from what I can tell, is rooted in the idea of freedom. It seems unfair for a free nation, like the one we live in, to force people to purchase health insurance if they don’t want it.
I can understand this attitude. After all, insurance is always something of a wager. The insurance company is laying stakes that you are likely to stay pretty healthy while you are covered on their plan, while you are betting that at some point in your life you will be sick or injured enough to spend more money on health care than on the insurance itself. If you’re a generally healthy person, that might not be a smart gamble. It’s certainly a depressing one.
The trouble is that if you were to suddenly pass out in a public area or get hit by a car or simply come down with a bad case of cancer, there is a still a certain amount of treatment that will be administered. Say you were to have a heart attack waiting in line at the bank? Someone is going to call 911, and an ambulance and EMTs are going to rush you to the hospital and the hospital is going to treat you. All of which involves people who need to get a paycheck, procedures that cost money, and equipment that must be financed by the institution where you are treated. Someone has to pay for all of those things, and if your personal finances don’t cover it, the hospital has to stretch the insurance payouts to make ends meet. This means higher costs for insurance companies, which means higher rates for the folks who buy that insurance.
This leads me to my little proposal. A way to let folks who don’t want to buy into the scam of health insurance to lead their lives free and clear, without wrecking the free-market system by forcing hospitals to treat people who can’t pay for the services.
Basically it works like this: everyone who purchases health insurance will be given a bracelet (like a med-alert bracelet) with a scannable number on it. (Under the Affordable Care Act, those who want insurance but can’t afford it would be covered by health exchanges, Medicare, or Medicaid. They get a bracelet, too.) Those who opt out of the system will either have no bracelet, or one with access to a health savings account. If say, an insured individual has a heart attack in the line at the bank, the EMTs will rush to their side, scan their bracelet and immediately know that this person is covered and entitled to treatment.
Someone who has opted not to purchase health insurance will have no bracelet, so the EMTs will know immediately that this person does not qualify for care. After all, if you can’t buy food, the grocery store won’t give it to you for free; why should the EMTs or the hospital waste resources on you if you can’t afford to have your life saved?
If you choose not to purchase health insurance, but don’t want to risk being left by the side of the road if you get hit by a car, you can load money into a health savings account, which will also be scannable from your bracelet. That way, when the EMTs find you, they can quickly deduce that you can pay for treatment, deduct the $200 ambulance ride right away, and you’ll still get care.
This way we avoid the dreaded socialism of a single-payer healthcare system or a public option, and maintain the freedom to not buy private insurance. And we bring back accountability, so responsible people who are maintaining their own health insurance accounts don’t have to pay higher rates to cover the folks who couldn’t be bothered to pay into the system. After all, that is freedom, right? The ability to make decisions for yourself and live with the consequences.
Under my plan, hospitals will save money by not treating sick people who aren’t insured, which means they can lower the retail rates for regular treatments. The government won’t have to step in to cover the difference, which means they can put more money toward expanding Medicaid and Medicare to cover the folks without access to health insurance for reasons outside their control.
It’s a win-win-win. So if you’re frustrated to hear that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare, write to your congressperson today and soon you can reform the reform!