Sep 03 2008

Change of heart on universal health care

Category: economy,healthcare,humor,politics,Uncategorizedsardonicwhiner @ 8:50 am

I may have had a change of heart about universal health care, i.e., government funded health care for people who can’t afford it.

Herewith, my modest policy proposal:

In order to be fair to the taxpayers who are going to fund this health care program for the uninsured, we need to be sure that only people who have no other option are going to get healthcare on the public dime.    For that reason, a simple means test will be employed, to make sure that people who want government funded health care are people who couldn’t possibly afford the coverage themselves, and who are not simply operating with other financial priorities that use the money they could have spent on health insurance.

As a simple assessment philosophy, I propose that to qualify a person must prove they can only afford to live at or below the common living standard of the middle class in 1948, with no excess cash left over for frills.  No one in the middle class of the USA in 1948 was “poor” by any sane standard, nor should they be considered so now.

In 1948, there were no microwave ovens (and few people could afford the frozen food to heat in them, if they had existed).   People drove no more than necessary, did not have cell phones, did not have cable TV or satellite TV, probably didn’t even HAVE a TV, didn’t buy expensive running shoes or designer coffees, and seldom went to the movie theater.

They did not have internet service charges added to their phone bill or non-existent cable bill.  They did not drive new cars, and the used cars they did drive were relatively simple affairs, not luxury cars with expensive upkeep, air conditioning, etc.  Most homes and apartments did not have air conditioning.

They did not buy iPods (or expensive music systems), video and DVD players and recorders, pay for gym memberships, or maintain expensive hobbies.   They did not maintain expensive telephone service plans with lots of long distance.  (We had local service only.  Normal people didn’t expect to make long distance calls at the drop of hat.)

They seldom ate in restaurants.  (I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and almost never ate in a restaurant as a child.  We were not poor.)  The whole notion of “fast food”, especially as a routine part of the diet, simply didn’t exist.  People bought staples and prepared meals.

Electric bills were low, because people didn’t have much that used electricity besides lights, and maybe the radio, which certainly was not on all the time.

So:  if you are living a middle class life by 1948 standards, you really cannot squeeze out any more cash for health insurance, and you are not spending your money on the items above, I am willing for the government to give you some help, provided you are employed, and/or are looking for a (better) job, or are disabled, or whatever.  If you’re on government assistance of some sort already, and you don’t spend any of that money on the items above, we can help you out, too.  If you could be working and supporting yourself, and you’re not, even with the best of motives (like, you’re a community organizer or something), then you’ll have to make arrangements for your own healthcare like everyone else.

Assuming you really are acting in good faith, and you really just can’t possibly afford health care no matter how much you scrimp, I think the tax payers should help you out.

Really.  I don’t want people to be sick and die for lack of medical care when they truly have no way to get it on their own.

But if you are spending money on any of the items above, and you do so regularly, then you have simply made other choices about how to live your life and spend your money, and those choices do not include health insurance.  I respect your right to make that choice, but you have no business asking taxpayers to buy health coverage for you, if you could have bought it yourself, but had other priorities.

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