Monday, November 19, 2007

Third World America

Nah, America doesn't need national health insurance:

It was 3 a.m. at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia — Friday, July 20, 2007 — the start of a rainy Appalachian morning. Outside the gates, people lay in their trucks or in tents pitched along the grassy parking lot, waiting for their chance to have their medical needs treated at no charge — part of an annual three-day “expedition” led by a volunteer medical relief corps called Remote Area Medical.

The group, most often referred to as RAM, has sent health expeditions to countries like Guyana, India, Tanzania and Haiti, but increasingly its work is in the United States, where 47 million people — more than 15 percent of the population — live without health insurance. (link)



Blogger Sam m said...

Maybe it's the libertarian in me. But 15 percent doesn't seem all that high to me. Particularly since I have known tons of people who have gone without, not because they are too poor or can't get coverage, but because they wanted to spend the money on other crap. Particularly young people, for whom, truth be told, going without might not be all that bad of a gamble. (Particularly since, if things go wring, someone will, in fact, take care of you. Maybe bill you later. Maybe not. I lived with a guy who spent all his money at the bar. He had a surgical bowel resection and month-long stay in the hospital. The doomsayers insist that the horrid American capitalist doctors kick him out on the street. Nope.)

This is not to say that there are not real people with real situations and that some people get screwed in the current system. And maybe it's easy for me to say what I say. Or maybe not. I mean, I make so little money that I would easily qualify for S-CHIP. Instead, I pay about $400 a month to put my wife and kids on my insurance through work. Why? I don't know. Damn libertarian thing again, I guess.

But seriously. I think doing some more reporting on this would be interesting. I bet if you went to that fairgrounds and interviewed everyone there, you'd find at least a few people who "could" afford health insurance. People who, if YOU switched situations with them, would be without insurance almost no matter what.

Again, this is not to say that there aren't real people in horrible situations. But I suspect that there would be just about as many in horrible situations regardless of the gargantuan national health insurance plan you devise.

In the end, I wonder: How many of those people, faced with the need for an emergency bowel resection, would not get one because they couldn't pay for it?

I am not arguing that the current system is perfect, or even that it works at all. But I think it's a big leap to say that since a bunch of people lined up for free health care, we need a nationalized system. After all, if you wen tot a fairground and offered free iPhones, you'd get a huge line. I doubt that means we need a national iPhone commission dispensing free hig-end telecommunication devices.

8:28 AM


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