Let Uninsured Die
Since the GOP presidential debate, there has been quite a lot of discussion about Ron Paul's "let uninsured die" comments. Sometimes it can be hard to filter out all of the opinions we have heard and listen with fresh ears. After my blog post last week, where I discussed presenting opinions as facts, I decided to transcribe the exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Ron Paul. You'll be able to read the factual account prior to seeing my comments. The only paraphrase I made (intentionally) was in the hypothetical situation Wolf Blitzer presented, mainly turning it from a first person (I) into a third person (he). You can listen along here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T9fk7NpgIU) and grade my transcription skills. I'm not telling you how long it took me!
Wolf Blitzer (WB): A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides he isn't going to spend $200-$300 a month for health insurance because he is healthy and doesn't need it. But something terrible happens and all of a sudden he needs it. Who is going to pay if he goes into a coma? Who pays for that?
Ron Paul (RP): In a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.
WB: But what do you want?
RP: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy...
WB: But he doesn't have it. And he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?
RP: That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody...
WB: But are you saying society should just let him die?
RP: I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid in the early 1960s when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospital. We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea. That's the reason the cost is so high. The cost is so high because we dump it on the government. It becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interest. It cowtows to the insurance companies and the drug companies. Then on top of that you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar. We have lack of competition. There's no competition in medicine. Everybody's protected by licensing. We should actually legalize alternative health care. Allow people to practice what they want.
I've heard a lot of negative reaction from this exchange, but I walked away with the sense that Ron Paul had captured the sentiments that many of the bloggers and commenters have expressed on this site.
1. Our current society has an entitlement philosophy: I should be able to make my own decisions; but if the outcome is poor, the government should take care of me. Instead, what we should be demanding from one another is personal accountability. You should not have the right to choose and also be exempt from all the consequences of that choice. (Think bank bailouts)
2. We've given up on the idea that we can take care of ourselves. We have become so accustomed to the government taking care of us that we have adopted a belief system that we can't take care of ourselves. Individual responsibility and accountability are now "out-of-the-box" concepts that are foreign to many of us. (Think healthy eating and exercise as an option to obesity)
3. Medical costs are sky high because of multiple factors, including government involvement with special interests that pander to insurance and medical companies, as well as a lack of competition in medicine. (Think free enterprise in medicine discussions)
4. We should legalize alternative medicine and allow health providers the right to choose what they practice and patients the right to choose what kind of care they receive. (Think how traditional medicine has failed patients)
Are the health care benefits from government involvement worth the cost?