Health Care Mandate is Conservative Idea

When the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act passed Congress and signed into law by President Obama, you would think the mandate for all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, was something that came from the deep bowels of Liberalism. In fact it was originally a conservative idea and has been until Obama and a Democrat-controlled congress took it up.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of having to pay for health insurance but I also know that it’s just as important if not more important than auto insurance. With car insurance, you must have it because if you have an accident and it’s your fault,  beyond a deductible, cost are covered for both sides and for anyone who might have been injured in that accident. Otherwise, if no one has car insurance and there’s an accident, someone is going to be in a financial crisis along with dealing with the aftermath of a car accident.

In other words, car insurance guaranteed that things will be taken care of if there is a major accident which could cost tens of thousands of dollars auto repairs and medical care.  It guarantees to any non-responsible drivers or passengers that there will be something there to cover their medical cost and loss of work that they would have to pay for otherwise.

Health insurance is much like car insurance as it’s meant to protect someone from financial ruin or just with health care – from depending on charity to pay for cost if there is a health crisis. And, anyone can have a health crisis. Though older people are more likely, even the youngest person can find themselves in need of medical care.  Accidents and illness can fall on any of us and will.

The question before the U.S. Supreme Court is: does the health care bill go too far by mandating that everyone buy health insurance? Or in other words; does it violate our Constitution? The answer really is simple and the members of the Court know that. If the cost of health care for those who don’t have health care insurance affect the cost of health care for everyone else who does have health insurance, then it can be regulated because of the wide latitude allowed by the commerce clause (Article One/Section 8/Clause 3).

From my experience; a few years ago I had a medical crisis. It was a simple gall bladder gone bad and easily taken care of with some outpatient surgery; most generally.  I had been experiencing some severe gall bladder attacks which was caused by – my best understood explanation – gall stones produced by my gall bladder getting stuck in my pancreas and causing pain which might last as long as 4 or 5 hours.

I dealt with the suffering because I had no health insurance and couldn’t afford to go to a doctor. Instead I just hoped it would get better and go away. A bad gall bladder can be removed but it doesn’t go away on its own. I went through this period that all my food began to taste metallic and before long I had jaundice and blood appeared in my urine. Still, I went on to work and carried on with my usual business because I had no health insurance and I couldn’t afford to go to a doctor.

One night I came to work and I was very sick. I’m a night auditor at a hotel and when I came to work that night, the lady I was relieving noticed my yellow skin and told me I needed to go to the hospital. I told her “I can’t afford it.” She responded by saying “You’ll go or you’ll die.” I knew by how I felt that she was right – this medical problem wasn’t going away until I went away, like dead, or get professional help.  I already figured what was wrong with me before that night because I had googled my symptoms; which many who can’t afford doctors will do – self-diagnose you might say.

I decided to try to get through the night and maybe I’d go to the hospital in the morning.  Unfortunately, I got to the point of almost passing out and knew I needed to get help. I called the assistant manager who came in to relieve me and I had the security guard take me to the emergency room. The emergency room medical staff took my vitals and I gave them a urine sample. It didn’t take them long to decide they would be keeping me and immediately hooked me up to an iv to get my blood cleaned out. I stayed for six days and six months later I had my gall bladder removed.

Because of my income level, I was able to get some charity to help me out with some of the cost but I still ended up being billed for over $7,000 and the loss of work time.  I am still paying that bill and will for the next few years. It could have been worse and it could have been even a more major medical crisis. I do know if I faced another one, I couldn’t pay for it. The cost would end up being paid by the hospital or some type of charity or through Medicaid and government tax dollars. It would ruin me completely financially. But it will have to be paid and that kind of cost is what runs the cost of health care up for everyone else. If I don’t pay it, someone else will.

So yes, the health care mandate is a conservative idea and always has been. Everyone takes responsibility for their own health care cost and not let their inability to pay raise the cost for everyone who does pay. I don’t believe it’s the best way to solve our health care needs in this country – a single-payer system would be better and much more of a liberal idea. But a mandate for everyone to have health insurance at least helps us all pay for the cost of health care and gives health care to at least 30 million more Americans. It’s a much more responsible thing for us to do and it will help us hopefully get to the point that the cost of health care will go down so that doesn’t threaten to bankrupt our economy.

Otherwise, we can go back to the old system – those who can afford health care can continue to foot the bill for everyone, including those who can afford it but choose to just wait until they get sick or needs medical care for some reason or the other and shows up at an emergency room, unable to pay. Let’s just hope the U.S. Supreme Court has the foresight to look into the future and realize that this is their chance to do the right thing and the conservative thing, which is to allow the Affordable Care bill to stand, in its entirety.

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