If the USA were the libertarian, take care of yourself society some people like to think it is, we would not have a health care issue. In that fantasy world, hospitals would throw out people who could not pay. Let them die in the street. Bloody gun shots, pneumonia, children who swallow rat poison. No tickee, no washee. Pay the money or die. What the hell. We are a market economy. The bastards who cannot pay don’t need to live.
I can imagine the Fixxed News Channel… indeed every joker with a Brownie… if that happened. There would be endless outrage. Hearings would be held, politicians would bloviate. No one would defend the heartless hospitals which are only protecting their economic interests as they are wont. We all want to have heart, but no one wants to pay for the consequences of heart.
Instead, here is what happens. People who cannot pay for health care get it anyway. The hospital grosses up the cost of everyone’s care and passes the costs for the uninsureded on to the rest of us. Remember that the uninsured do not include the indigent, who are covered by Medicare. Thus, the people who are getting free health care are people who have jobs and can afford to buy some form of health insurance. These slackers are now represented by the dumbass teabaggers who defend the right of people not to be forced to buy government insurance.
Couple thoughts: First, there is another model for forced federal insurance. If you own a home in a flood zone, you are required by federal law to buy flood insurance. The law was passed for the same reasons we now seek mandatory health insurance. Homeowners (mostly rich people with very expensive summer homes on the ocean) would get wiped out by flood or hurricaine and have no insurance. People would whine to Congress that they had lost everything (especially the rich people on the Carolina Coast) and Congress would subsidize their rebuilding. Mandatory flood insura ce was the way Congress finally dealt with this problem. After 1993, you could not whine that you did not have the option.
Second, along with removing the antitrust exemption perhaps we should make hospital bills exempt from bankruptcy and assign… sell… all hospital debt, whether or not in bankruptcy, to a government agency that can collect on it and force the debtor to buy health insurance.