Yet Another

That’s two letters to Sullivan this week:


Hey Andrew:

What has happened to you? Has your support for the Administration gotten so tepid that you are reduced to reproducing anecdotes? That’s something I would expect of third-tier anonymous blog, not my favorite blog on the internet.

First, there was the “two Augusts” post where you reader praised the responsible Barack Obama for giving her 4500 deficit-borrowed dollars — as contrasted against the cavalier George Bush who only gave her $600 when we were running a surplus. If you want to argue for a stimulus, do so — I’m willing to listen. But don’t insult our intelligence with stories about how much people love their “free” money.

Then there was the trifecta of “From Your Sickbed” stories, all of which illustrated the case *against* the Democrat plan:

1) The epileptic. I can sympathize with his concern about racking up $500 (or more) ambulance trips. But that situation will get *worse* under universal healthcare because he will no longer have any incentive to refuse the ambulance ride. How is that situation better when he’s taking “free” $500 ambulance rides at every seizure? Or when ambulance decide to transport any epileptic? And how is it better when we gut the profits of drug companies that might develop better medication to prevent his seizures?

[Interruption: I've had numerous occasions where I've refused ambulance trips to save money. The last was when my wife had a disagreement with the garage door that ended with a bad cut on her forehead.]

Also note that, at minimum wage, he would have qualified for many state and federal insurance programs and quite possibly a program from the evil greedy drug companies themselves to help him stay on medication.

2) The people with the sick kid. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be cruel. But they were apparently not poor enough to qualify for S-CHIP (twice the poverty rate). Their insurance sounded imminently reasonable to me. I pay more than that amount for my kid. I work with students who could qualify for S-CHIP but buy into employer insurance with higher personal premiums for their kids. Then your couple couldn’t scrape up $100 for a kid with a fever of 103? I feel bad for them but what do you say to the families that make sacrifices and scrape up to make sure their kids are insured and see a doctor?

[Interruption: even people with insurance have to make these decisions. The first time my daughter got sick, she had a temperature of 103 and we decided to keep her home. Fortunately, it was just a virus but it could easily have been this same situation. If it had hone badly, I hope we wouldn't have, like these people, tried to blame our bad decision on the healthcare system.]

3) The pastor. You left off which state he is in. Might it be one of the states that has passed so many insurance mandates that insurance has skyrocketed in price? McArdle noted yesterday that New York insurance has quadrupled thanks to insurance mandates. Other states have similar disasters (incuding Illinois, where Obama supported numerous insurance mandates).

[Interruption: insurance is expensive -- mine is at least $12k a year. But a large part of that is insurance mandates, out of control malpractice lawyers and the disconnect between consumer and payment. None of the Democrat plans address any of this.]

Again, I don’t want to be mean and cruel. But your three anecdotes illustrate everything that’s wrong with this debate. People are unwilling to avail themselves of existing help. People make bad decisions to save money. People want someone else (preferably someone richer) to pay for the unlimited healthcare. Even if you eliminate profit, insurance is a zero-sum game. The bill has to be paid by someone. It’s one thing to help poor people or those in bad health (which Medicare and Medicaid do, grudgingly). But why do we need yet another middle class subsidy?

You also sniped about the old age of the townhall protesters. So … what do you think will happen with national healthcare? Will costs be cut from the seniors who vote like hell? Or from the young people who don’t? From the unions that wield political power (whoops, already done)? Or from the plebs?

2 Responses to “Yet Another”

  1. johnny says:

    Well put, Mikey.

    On #2, it sucks that they think they couldn’t afford the $100 for their kid, but if they don’t qualify for S-CHIP, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t have $100 available for their kid. Or at least, explain that they don’t have it and could get it by the time they are billed by the hospital. Just because people can’t afford something doesn’t mean that it’s too expensive. Maybe they make bad purchasing decisions. As someone who doesn’t (ok, truthfully, my wife won’t let me), I don’t feel like subsidizing that do.

    On #3, I have a friend who is a pastor and they seem to get along just fine paying for their insurance even with a stay-at-home wife and soon to be two kids. Regardless, this guy made the choice to be a pastor just as I made a choice to be a rich and successful, and very sexy, software developer. No one is forcing him to be a pastor. If Church’s are having trouble, maybe there are too many of them. Regardless, I do not think the difficulties of Church’s should have any bearing what-so-ever on any legislation.

    The last thing I will comment is on the “right” to health care. Health care is a service and a product, if you consider medicine. So how can anyone have a “right” to anyone else’s time or property?

  2. Mike says:

    “The last thing I will comment is on the “right” to health care. Health care is a service and a product, if you consider medicine. So how can anyone have a “right” to anyone else’s time or property?”

    Exactly. I have no problem helping people, just like I have no problem helping people get fed and sheltered. But when you make it a *right*, you move things to a completely new and unsustainable paradigm.