Without wanting to come off sounding too much like a politician, I nonetheless want to be clear: I’ve always supported a single payer health care system. Quite frankly, as a progressive, I’m somewhat disappointed with what I believe is reform that not only doesn’t go far enough, but is a massive handout to insurance companies. However, despite the somewhat botched roll-out of the website and kinks in the law itself that need to be ironed out, I am proud that the President and Democratic Party finally achieved something that no other person or party was able to accomplish before – revamping a health care system which was in serious need of an overhaul. Having said that, I still think we should just move full steam ahead towards single payer, which Vermont, for example, is already considering.
Which brings me to my larger point. According to a study done by Illinois Wesleyan University in 2012, 30-40 billion dollars worth of taxpayer money a year goes to pay for people who go to the ER without insurance – a combination of people who actually need urgent care and those who are using the ER for preventative health services that they would otherwise obtain from their primary care physician if they were insured. In addition, aside from taxpayer spending, covering the uninsured and their bills practically doubles annual health premiums for those that are insured.
The ACA helps to close this gap by lowering the number of uninsured people. Using state Medicaid expansions, subsidies, and tax credits, the ACA looks to reduce the number of uninsured people and thus to reduce the amount of money spent on those who are uninsured. Moreover, even when accounting for the subsidizing, it is estimated that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit, saving the U.S. more than $200 billion in the first decade and $1 trillion in the following 10 years. I’m not going to get into a long and drawn out synopsis of the ACA; I’ve already wrote about it previously, there are many articles on the topic out there, and it’s not the topic of this article.
Furthermore, this article is not addressed at those who are low income and who may be eligible for Medicaid (if they live in a state that expanded), subsidies, tax credits, or exemptions. These people are in a whole other category. This article is addressed at one group and one group only; those people who are mostly Tea Party members (albeit not all of them are members of the TP and not all members of the TP are refusing to buy insurance) who can afford to, but refuse to buy health insurance on the grounds that the government shouldn’t be able to “force” them to do anything. This argument is absolutely absurd. It shirks the idea of personal responsibility – a notion championed by conservatives – and fails to account for the fact that the individual mandate was the bi-partisan compromise in the law. After all, it was an idea written, promoted, and defended by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.
So, who are these people? They are the new American moochers. Stomping around complaining about how they shouldn’t be forced to do anything – ever – because “freedom” and “Murica.” Constantly complaining that “welfare kings and queens” who collect SNAP benefits are moochers who are taking advantage of the system, when in reality, they are the biggest moochers of all.
If you’re alive, you need health insurance. If you breathe, you need to be insured. Your choice to not be insured ends where my choice not to pay for you because you’re not insured begins; and since I don’t get that choice, you don’t have a choice as to whether you buy insurance (unless of course you just want to pay the $95 personal responsibility fee – which SHOCKER goes to cover YOUR OWN CARE). In other words, since some of my tax money goes towards paying for your care if you’re not insured (whether I like it or not) and therefore I don’t have a choice about paying, then you don’t have a choice when it comes to either getting insurance or paying the penalty for not having it.
The new face of the American moocher? The person who refuses to buy insurance on political principle, driving costs up for all of us. The person who refuses to take personal responsibility, while claiming that is what conservatism is all about about. I’ve had it with these people. Their audacity to point fingers at others who need government assistance makes my blood boil. Moreover, nobody is actually forcing them to buy health insurance. If they don’t want it, they can just pay the $95 fine. But, when one is not individually responsible for themselves by either getting themselves insurance or paying the fee, the rest of us end up paying for it with our taxes and increases in our premiums. When people who have made a conscious decision not to insure themselves end up getting sick and/or injured, we end up paying for them in one way or another.
Who are you to think that you can mooch off the rest of us? Here is an idea: buy insurance or pay the penalty, but keep your grubby hands off my tax dollars because of your refusal to buy something you actually need, on political principle. Conservatives constantly complain that forcing them to buy health insurance is akin to slavery. Well, guess what? Me paying for your stupidity makes me a slave to the moocher; buy your own damn insurance or pay the penalty to cover the portion of my money you end up spending when you get sick and go to the hospital without insurance.
Finally, if you don’t like the mandate, blame a conservative. If you don’t like the ACA, blame a conservative. Progressives always did and still do want single payer – we ended up with this because we had to work with conservatives who wanted a market-based solution. Some people never learn.