Hillary, Health Care, and the Morbidly Obese

Sunday, August 06, 2006

As you may know, I’m in favor of universal health care, although it would need to be watched carefully to prevent inefficiency and abuse. If every American is guaranteed public schooling, it’s ridiculous not to offer health care as well.

I’ve always wondered, though - how do you stop abuse? I don’t want my tax dollars to go to pay for repeated bypass surgery for someone who refuses to even try to be healthy. Should everyone have to pay for the 400 pound man who smokes two packs a day and never gets off the couch?

I was talking to a friend of a friend of my fiancee, a guy who happens to be a Canadian citizen (Through a rather confusing set of circumstances). The conversation came up just as we were leaving, so it didn’t go as far as I might have liked, but he made the point that there will always be people like that, no matter what is being paid for, and we can’t choose yes or no on universal health care based on that.

It got me thinking. What about the kid in the public school system who cuts class when he can, and sleeps or misbehaves when he can’t? I don’t want to pay for his schooling, either. Or perhaps the couple who fight constantly - I don’t want to pay for the police to come break it up once a week. For any service the government provides, there will be people who abuse it.

So we have to figure out how to prevent abuse. We don’t want people rushing to the emergency room every time they sneeze in search of expensive prescription drugs. We don’t want people to abuse their bodies, knowing that corrective surgery will be available when they need it. We also need to protect the system from abuse by politicians. It would be a matter of minuntes after a universal health care system was put in place before someone tried to pass a law saying that the government would never pay for anything to do with birth control.

So, how can we make this work? I think a co-pay system might help. If people have to pay some amount, it would make them think twice about going to the doctor for something trivial. Of course, there’s virtually no way to keep a co-pay system from being like a regressive tax, and putting more burden on those with lower incomes.

A non-partisan council to determine what is necessary and what is elective might help, as well. Of course, I have no idea how such a council might be created.

So, Hillary, I’ll make you a deal. If you present a realistic and feasible plan for universal health care, I’ll vote for you, despite my misgivings. And I’ll even consent to paying for a bypass surger for the fat smoker on the couch. However, I reserve the right to throw rotten tomatoes at his house while he’s in the hospital.

Posted in: health , uninformed ramblings