I wonder if one can say with without sounding like some sort of complete Scrooge...
There's a turn of phrase which has been bothering me a lot lately, and given that many predict health care will be a big issue in the coming election, I suspect I'll be hearing it a lot more.
"I think there's something wrong with a world where parents have to watch their child get sick because they don't have health insurance."
I understand what people mean to say, but: Not having health insurance is not itself a health problem. Indeed, 95% of the time, not having health care is not a health problem. The trick is, the other 5% can really get you.
Most of the time people are healthy. Our kids haven't been to a doctor for anything other than yearly checkups and vaccinations in about a year and a half. (And the last time we actually did take a kid in, we were told, "Yep. Looks like a virus. Get her plenty of rest and fluids.")
Now, I don't deny that not having health insurance is scarry, and at times costly. When we first moved to Texas, we found ourselves between coverage for a couple of months, during which time everyone got massive cases of strep throat and sinus infections. Just that cleaned us out a good $500 worth of money we didn't have, though what had really worried me was what would happen if we got in a massive car wreck or something and racked up tens of thousands in medical bills. (On the flip side, the $500 in actual medical bills was about the same as I was having witheld every month from my check to pay for insurance at the job I'd left in California.)
So my point is not necessarily to say that not having health insurance is no big deal. But I do think that it represents an emotional and unhelpful way to discuss the problem to imagine that simply being without health insurance itself makes people sick or makes people die.
Health insurance is one way, in our modern world of powerful but expensive medical care, to pay for health care. And paying for medical care is sometimes necessary when someone is sick or injured. However, it's the medical care which is sometimes necessary to health, not the insurance. Thinking inside the box of, "Lack of insurance equals sickness and death" limits our collective ability to consider all possible solutions to the "health care crisis".
Insurance has never made anyone healthy, nor does lacking insurance make people sick. Insurance is just a method of paying for things.
Philosophy and the Virtue of Temperance
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