Social Question

susanc's avatar

Why pay for other people to be healthy?

Asked by susanc (16107points) March 22nd, 2010

One of the most obvious “advantages” of the new health-care plan is that some enormous number of uninsured Americans will now have access to health care.
How does this benefit anyone else?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

97 Answers

slick44's avatar

Its called compassion. or human.Or just call it a good deed

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I don’t know. But it benefits people who didn’t have access to health insurance….

tinyfaery's avatar

When will we finally realize that the fate of one effects the fate of us all?

the100thmonkey's avatar

Why help anyone at all?

nebule's avatar

because it could end up being you… people can lose their jobs, homes etc through no fault of their own and end up penniless…we should all be entitled to health and life…

dpworkin's avatar

Why pay for other people’s kids to go to school? Why not rent your own fireman with a truck to hang around your house? Why not a private detective for each of us instead of a police department. Why do I have to pay for roads my car has never been on?

john65pennington's avatar

People have always had access to healthcare. its emergency rooms and medicare/medicaid. but, the illegls were left out, but now they will be covered at our expense. don’t you know this is what the whole healthcare package is about? think about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Why? What do you mean why? ugh

Fausnaught's avatar

Wouldn’t you like the safty net? Bad things can happen to any of us. It’s just smart governence. More people healthy and workung or going to school, the more tax dollars to the fed.

jfos's avatar

I will preface my comment with this: I support the health care reform.

@slick44 It is compassionate, but hardly human. Human = animal = survival. It seems like it would be anti-nature to ensure the well-being of others. Especially if the others are competition for survival and reproduction.

RandomMrdan's avatar

Don’t even illegal aliens have to actually pay the premiums to get the medical coverage?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos Actually more and more research is showing that we’re not selfish by nature – that co-operation and altruism are things the process evolution has allowed to develop.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@john65pennington And emergency room visits can put people into debt for the rest of their lives.

Keysha's avatar

I’ll give you a reason you can understand. Uninsured wait until they have no choice, then go to the hospital instead of catching illnesses and such early at a doctor’s office. They, being uninsured, cannot pay a bill, but the hospital HAS to treat them. The cost of treating those uninsured (much higher than it would be at a doctor’s office earlier) is passed on to you, the ones that can pay it.

stump's avatar

The more access people have to health services, the more likely they will see a doctor when they first have symptoms. Illnesses are dealt with much more cheaply when diagnosed early. That brings down the cost of health care for everyone. When very sick people with no health insurance go to the emergency room for treatment, they get very expensive care, and everyone else pays for it. You are paying for it either way. It is a lot cheaper to have everyone covered than not to.

Lve's avatar

@jfos Humans are also social creatures. Humans used to live in small tribes where the would look out for one another and take care of each other. The responsibilities individuals have/feel to their community/society are different, but essentially still there on a greater scale.

noyesa's avatar

Because we’re wealthy enough of a country that everyone deserves access to healthcare.

I don’t really care about the cost benefits of government healthcare, there’s zero question that everyone deserves it.

wundayatta's avatar

It lowers the cost of our health insurance. If employers are good, they will pass that on to us in the form of higher salaries.

Expanding coverage means more people are paying in. The expenses won’t go up as much (since the new people paying in are generally healthier). We all benefit. And, as @stump said, you save money when people are treated earlier in the proper setting. So many hospitalizations and many emergency room visits will be avoided, saving an awful lot of money.

There’s so many other sources of savings, but that’s it for now.

Why pay for other people to be healthy? We aren’t. We’re getting paid when everyone is healthy. That is to say, we save money.

Dog's avatar

Health care should be a basic right- not just for those who can afford it. I would much rather pay taxes for this cause than pay to so that wall street executives can get their insanely high bonuses, or to pay to continue the 7th year of a war on foriegn soil.

At least this taxing will really help people in need. I would like to think that it will make a big difference to a lot of people and maybe even help people achieve their dreams.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Why? Never mind the altruistic reason for a minute, although I do think it is important. There is also a pragmatic reason. Financially speaking, allowing everyone to have health insurance might actually lead to them seeking medical care. That, in turn, will increase jobs in the medical sector and may also lead to employees having less absenteeism/presenteeism/etc.

Val123's avatar

@RandomMrdan You have to be a legal citizen of the US to qualify for the health insurance.

Just_Justine's avatar

we all become old and sick eventually

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dog Agreed! I’d rather pay for health care than to throw away gazillions of dollars into the Military Industrial Complex
@Dr_Dredd logic!

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You gave me déjà vu for some reason. As much as I believe you about the research, humans are still animals, and have the instinct to survive and reproduce.

@Lve Lions are social creatures. Lions live in the wild where the females hunt for the pride and the males defend the territory. Even so, I’m sure a starving lion would sooner eat than share a meal.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos I’m just saying it’s both…we have the inherent need to survive and reproduce but to get at the latter we have also an urge to form bonds and sacrifice for the group

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

So it has no benefit because it doesn’t benefit you directly?

Lve's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You said what I wanted to say :-)

susanc's avatar

@noyesa: “Because we’re wealthy enough of a country that everyone deserves access to healthcare.”
Well many people think our economy’s tanking. How do you feel about countries that are poor? People in those countries DON’T “deserve access to health care”?
What does “deserve” mean?

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir And the urges to rape, slaughter, wage war, pray, deride, steal, kidnap, lie, and cheat, just to name a few. Compassionate =/= human. Yes we sacrifice and help each other, but I think that is due to nurture rather than nature.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos But we nonetheless do have compassion – and that means we (well some of us) don’t just drop it when push comes to shove – it’s called integrity.

jaytkay's avatar

It’s the same benefit you get by having schools, roads, police, food and drug inspections…

You know – civilization.

If you don’t like that, you should move where you can be with your own kind. The mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be a good choice.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t mean to argue, if that’s how I’m coming off, but I’m neither suggesting that humans cannot be compassionate nor denying the existence of integrity. I’m simply stating my opinion that humans are not naturally compassionate.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos we are not arguing, whatsoever.

noyesa's avatar

@susanc Our economy is still the strongest in the world. Period. We’re still an extremely wealthy country. Everyone deserves healthcare, but the US is wealthy enough to actually afford it. Believe it or not. The economy tanking meant we could no longer put silver lining on everything we own. It means that lower middle class union workers can no longer afford a 2500 sq ft suburban house.

We CAN afford healthcare, we just have to cut the excesses that have lead us into our fiscal crisis.

mysweetdrream182's avatar

This new health care plan may help the economy. Pretend its a stimulus package, but with tax cuts for the poor.

Imagine who would be in need of health care right now. How about people who suffered losses during hurricane Katrina? I’m sure this new plan will be a boost for some. As it will be one less thing to worry about.

Also many college students are not insured, and majority of them can’t afford it with school. Imagine having to pay for books, tuition, and health care, and now expect that from someone with little to no income/parental support to make that work. This new plan will help students and future generations (long term benefits for our country).

We are living amongst a generation of children who have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

We are talking about 3 million Americans that are uninsured. When doing something for the greater good, one does not think about how it will benefit oneself. As this is a selfless act.

Lve's avatar

@jfos discussing the nature of human beings is all about philosophy, there is no right or wrong answer to that

Snarp's avatar

How come no one seems to have noticed that what this bill will really do is increase competition, and isn’t that good for the free market, regardless of who’s paying for whose healthcare? Insurance exchanges will help to introduce competition into a market that is currently an oligopoly worthy of anti-trust prosecution. Employer based coverage will be protected for workers who lose or leave their jobs, making it easier for workers to change employers, which will increase competition in the job market. That should be good for workers as well as for companies trying to recruit the best employees. Small businesses will get help paying for insurance coverage, improving their ability to compete with larger companies. All of that should strengthen the economy from a conservative or libertarian view point, and that at the least is why it is worthwhile to pay for other people’s health care. It also provides a labor supply that is generally healthier and should result in fewer sick days and other lost productivity due to delayed treatment or preventable illness.

Plus, it’s just the right thing to do, and sometimes that’s all that really matters.

jfos's avatar

@Lve Agreed. Discussing why to pay for other people to be healthy is philosophical as well.

Val123's avatar

@mysweetdrream182 Not just college kids….convenience store workers, CNAs, factory workers, waitresses, cooks, and the list goes on. There are a lot of hard-working American’s out there who can not afford health care.

There are those few who have been afforded the opportunity to work for huge corporations that pay for all or most of their premiums, who have health insurance, and so many of them act like anyone who doesn’t have the kind of job they have simply doesn’t deserve health insurance. I had one (retired engineer taking advantage of SS and Medicare!) who is completely against that bill. He said “Health care is is a privilege for those who have worked for it, just like bigger houses, expensive cars and vacations.” He actually compared basic health care to cars and vacations!!!!!!!!! Yeah, well, get out and pump your own damn gas and don’t expect someone to wait on you when you go out to eat. Or. I know. Leave all of those lower end jobs for the illegal immigrants. That way we can pin point who they are and toss them back into Mexico.

People like that just piss me off. Like they’re better than anyone else. They don’t have the brains to understand that our country would fail without the under girding of all of the people working for little more than minimum wage.

Keysha's avatar

@john65pennington just so you know, according to the bill, Illegal immigrants will not be allowed to buy health insurance in the exchanges—even if they pay completely with their own money.

It also says Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid.

I think you need to re-read the bill. Instead of listening to negative hype.

dpworkin's avatar

(Or we could just legalize all the immigrants. That would be the best thing for our country, if we are truly patriots and not just selfish bigots.)

Snarp's avatar

@dpworkin And create a North American Union akin to the European Union while we’re at it.

jfos's avatar

@Snarp I don’t think we could think of a currency that would sound better than Euros though. North Ameros don’t sound nearly as cool.

dpworkin's avatar

Bold? Just in our best interest. Then they have normative obligations, and make normative contributions. Immigration has always fueled progress, creativity, culture, markets and GDP.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s all depends on how you choose to look at the numbers! Of the supposed 45 million uninsured almost 10 million are not US citizens. Also 17 million of these “uninsured” earn between $50,000—$75,000 per year and should be able to afford insurance but for whatever reason choose not to buy insurance…probably because they are young and healthy and don’t need to go to the doc at all. So what you have left is roughly 20 million uninsured people. Not as big a problem that was sold to the American public over the weekend. So instead of 45 millions people rejoicing over new health care coverage I suspect there is going to be 20 million or more really pissed off people. Nice!

john65pennington's avatar

Keysha, not talking about the healthcare package as voted on last night. just the free healthcare the illegals receive daily at ERs. ask any ER nurse and they will tell you. its the Fed law that this healhcare should be given to the indigent. the illeglas use false identification to obtain their ER services and there is no one to sue to recover the financial loses by the hospital. they are not stupid.

dalepetrie's avatar

Rarely do I let someone else do my talking for me, but I think this explains it pretty well. I got this email this morning from Michael Moore, explaining why Republicans should also regard this as a good thing, I will cut and paste below:

The Great Thing About the Health Care Law That Has Passed? It Will Save Republican Lives, Too (An Open Letter to Republicans from Michael Moore)

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

To My Fellow Citizens, the Republicans:

Thanks to last night’s vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

Thanks to last night’s vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.

Thanks to last night’s vote, after your cancer returns for the third time—racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive—your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we’ve made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you’re upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that’s a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I’m sure he could make that into a movie for you.

But the reality is that these health insurance companies have only one mission: To take as much money from you as they can—and then work like demons to deny you whatever coverage and help they can should you get sick.

So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you’ll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening.

If it’s any consolation, the thieves who run the health insurance companies will still get to deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions for the next four years. They’ll also get to cap an individual’s annual health care reimbursements for the next four years. And if they break the pre-existing ban that was passed last night, they’ll only be fined $100 a day! And, the best part? The law will require all citizens who aren’t poor or old to write a check to a private insurance company. It’s truly a banner day for these corporations.

So don’t feel too bad. We’re a long way from universal health care. Over 15 million Americans will still be uncovered—and that means about 15,000 will still lose their lives each year because they won’t be able to afford to see a doctor or get an operation. But another 30,000 will live. I hope that’s ok with you.

If you don’t mind, we’re now going to get busy trying to improve upon this bill so that all Americans are covered and so the grubby health insurance companies will be put out of business—because when it comes to helping the sick, no one should ever be allowed to ask the question, “How much money can we save by making this poor bastard suffer?”

Please, my Republican friends, if you can, take a quiet moment away from your AM radio and cable news network this morning and be happy for your country. We’re doing better. And we’re doing it for you, too.

Yours,

Michael Moore

holden's avatar

@john65pennington God. Dammit.
okay, back to lurking.

Grisaille's avatar

@john65pennington How is it that you manage to sneak “illegals” into every conversation?

Do tell me your idea of what should happen, though.

I’m sure you have a riveting write-up waiting for me, explaining how someone should be turned away at the ER with a severed hand due to poor working conditions as the country they currently occupy refuses to give them access to unionized protection.

Better yet, enthrall me with a tale of how we should deport them female wetbacks whenever they show up to our hospitals in labor. What, who cares? That’s probably her 10th child anyway, right?

Fuck it!

jfos's avatar

@Grisaille Union-ized or un-ionized?

Grisaille's avatar

Regarding the actual question: What do you think?

Where the hell do we get off saying “health coverage of other people is not my business, nor should I pay for it”? Where are we as a country when there is an actual outcry against something like this? This has been, quite literally, a debate of life vs. death.

@dpworkin said it quite well. If you aren’t into “socialism”, get your ass personal bodyguards, pave your own roads, teach your own damn kids, etc.

Do it, you know. For the betterment of humanity, of the civilization which you claim to belong.

Where is FDR and his economic bill of rights? Dammit.

wonderingwhy's avatar

What happens when the “other people” include you?

Moral niceties aside, that right there is pretty much why you/we pay for it.

Strauss's avatar

@susanc I have a long laundry list of reasons we should pay for other people to be healthy.
Many of these have been stated above, and I may repeat them, please bear with me..

Many uninsured individuals (and I’m not just talking illegal immigrants or residents @john65pennington), have no choice but to use ER’s instead of a doctor’s office or clinic for their health care. This limits availability of ER’s for legitimate emergencies and pushes up the ER costs, which causes higher fees to those who can afford to pay, whether through insurance or out-o-pocket.

One of the goals of the US Constitution, according to the preamble, is “to promote the general welfare”. I think providing health care to each and every one of “Us (We) the People” is a strong part of that general welfare.

The for-profit insurance companies need to be regulated. As corporations, they are first responsible to provide profit to their shareholders. All other responsibilities, including providing health care to policyholders, is secondary to that first responsibility. The CEO’s who receive millions of dollars in compensation do so directly at the expense of policyholders who have paid premiums but can be denied coverage for one reason or another.

@dpworkin ”(Or we could just legalize all the immigrants. That would be the best thing for our country, if we are truly patriots and not just selfish bigots.)”
I think Reagan tried that, only he did it to bust the United Farm Workers Union

Dr_C's avatar

This is a simple matter.

1) The amount people with access to insurance and health coverage is inversely proportional to the amount of people who request emergency medical services for preventable diseases, for chronic conditions, and for easily treatable conditions if diagnosed early.

2) The amount of patients seeking emergency care for the aforementioned contitions is directly proportional to the cost of healthcare in that the funding for this “free” service comes from the taxpayer. If we reduce the ammount of emergency visits through prevention and primary care we will reduce the cost to the tax payer.

3) “This is a financial fiasco” sounds like it came from someone that drank out of Glenn Beck’s kool-aid cup. The bill was evaluated by the non-partisan CBO who determined that the bill will save billions over the first 10 years and just over a trillion over the next 10.

4) “Illegals have access to free medicine!!!” & “ask any ER nurse” well, I’m an ER doctor.. can I answer? These people come into emergency rooms because they are legally prohibited from purchasing health insurance, they have no access to preventative care since their employers are not legally obligated to provide it for non-citizens, these people work in sub-human conditions for very little pay, no benefits and in many cases are the object of discrimination (you know about this right @john65pennington ?) and abuse. These people are mistreated and taken advantage of. They are forced to work under conditions that puts their health at risk because they have no other choice as far as employment and because it’s cheaper for an employer to pay illegals without providing even the most basic safeguards as opposed to paying an American worker and having to provide health care, personal protective equipment, higher living wages, etc etc. They are people. they deserve to be treated with respect and their life is just as valuable as yours.

Using health-care cost as another excuse to discriminate against a people who are already struggling is a cheap shot and a lame excuse to vent your own frustration.

Seek's avatar

Bravissimi, @Dr_C

We should all pay for each other’s healthcare because no one should ever have to stay up all night scared to death and searching Google to determine whether the lump they found is a swollen gland, a hernia, or cancer. Period.

slick44's avatar

And no human being should die just because they have no insurance. Thats just wrong. We are talking about a life.

Cruiser's avatar

@Dr_C I admire any doctor for their compassion to care for us and even the “illegals” you refer to. This a non-issue, they shouldn’t be here in the first place and shouldn’t be part of the conversation. And I would like to point out they are not being forced to be here and nobody is “forcing” them to work under crummy conditions. Yes they are taken advantage of and most are eager to work at any job to provide for themselves and their families.

Hey! Let’s deport the 10 millions illegals…instantly have millions of available jobs, your emergency room work load significantly reduced…wow we can solve the health care and unemployment problem at the same time! Oh Mr. Obama….

jaytkay's avatar

The “illegals” are here thanks to the citizens who hire them. The restaurant lobby for one prevents any real action there.

Dr_C's avatar

It’s easy to say these people are not forced to work under deplorable conditions… Deportation has been tried and has failed… have any of you actually tried to see things from the immigrant’s POV? It’s a very hard life with little reward. Living is it’s own reward for some of these people.

Regardless of how a migrant got to their new home country, they decided to take a risk and move to a foreign country in search of a better life. Many usually leave loved ones and valuable possessions behind. Some immigrants leave their home country due to political or economic reasons. Individuals generally choose to emigrate to countries that are more technologically advanced, have greater resources and offer more opportunities. Some immigrants also move to a foreign country to give their children a better life.

Once in the foreign country, illegal immigrants tend to become employed in what is known as “low skilled jobs.” These jobs are often labor intensive and don’t tend to attract many employees. In the United States for example, the landscaping and construction sectors tend to be popular with immigrants as there is generally no requirement to be fluent in the English language. Other employment sectors that attract illegal immigrants include restaurants, hospitality, prostitution, agriculture and domestic service. Some argue that illegal immigrants tend to take on the jobs that residents or citizens refuse while others argue that illegal immigrants take away jobs in general. Work regulations, specifically in the United States, prohibit employers from hiring illegal immigrants. However, this does not deter some employers. Unfortunately some employers even take advantage of an employee’s “undocumented” status. An employer may pay below what the federal law requires and allow an employee to work in unsafe conditions. Some employers feel they could get away with these human rights violations with illegal immigrants because they wouldn’t report their employer out of fear of deportation.

So what’s your definition of being “forced” to work under difficult conditions?

People have been kidnapped or tricked into slavery to work as laborers, for example in factories. Those trafficked in this manner often face additional barriers to escaping slavery, since their status as illegal immigrants makes it difficult for them to gain access to help or services. For example Burmese women trafficked into Thailand and forced to work in factories or as prostitutes may not speak the language and may be vulnerable to abuse by police due to their illegal immigrant status.

While economic models do look at relative wealth and income between home and destination countries, they do not necessarily imply that illegal migrants are always impoverished by standards of the home country. The poorest classes in a developing country may lack the resources needed to mount an attempt to cross illegally, or the connections to friends or family already in the destination country. Studies from the Pew Hispanic Center have shown that the education and wage levels of illegal Mexican immigrants in the US are above the median for Mexico.

Other examples do show that increases in poverty, especially when associated with immediate crises, can increase the likelihood of illegal migration. The 1994 economic crisis in Mexico, subsequent to the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was associated with widespread poverty and a lower valuation for the peso relative to the dollar. It also marked the start of a massive swell in Mexican emigration, in which net illegal migration to the US increased every year from the mid-1990s until the mid 2000s.

As far as deporting illegals… In the first six months of 2005 alone, more than 120,000 people from Central America have been deported to their countries of origin. This is a significantly higher rate than in 2002, when for the entire year, only 130,000 people were deported. Another important group of people are those of Chinese origin, who pay about $5,500 to smugglers to be taken to Mexico from Hong Kong. It is estimated that 2.4% of rejections for work permits in Mexico correspond to Chinese citizens. Many women from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Central and South America are also offered jobs at table dance establishments in large cities throughout the country causing the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Mexico to raid strip clubs and deport foreigners who work without the proper documentation. In 2004, the INM deported 188,000 people at a cost of $10 million. Illegal immigration of Cubans through Cancún tripled from 2004 to 2006.

How’s that working out?

andrew's avatar

@Cruiser “Let’s deport the 10 millions illegals”
Except then I wouldn’t be able to afford orange juice. And that’s un-American.

For the original question:
Why pay for other people to by healthy? Because you already do. In your premiums.

Grisaille's avatar

Yeah, @Cruiser

Why do you hate america

CMaz's avatar

Sick people and sickness drags us all down.
We are only as strong as our weakest link.

Cruiser's avatar

@Grisaille Because they drive so slow here and make me late for work! Why do you spell America with lower case? Do you hate America or something?

I love America I hate paying taxes to an organization that then spends it so ineffectively and over pays it own employees and rewards 20 years of lazy ass effort with one of the best pension programs in the world. Gov workers get to retire at 58 years old on average and have immediate access to these killer pensions and health care packages (that we get to pay for) on top of enjoying salaries that are 15% higher than a similar job in the private sector again that we have to pay for. I have read estimates that over 17,000 new employees will be needed to run this new health care program. That’s 17,000 new salaries we will have to pay because of this new health care reform. That still won’t make me hate America…just Democrats. ;)

Seek's avatar

Wait… there are 17,000 government jobs opening up?

Where do I have to move to to get one? The only time in my life that I’ve had health insurance was when I worked for the county government. Sure, it was annoying as hell and the job sucked, but when I scratched my cornea I was able to see a doctor for it.

Grisaille's avatar

@Cruiser I am not entirely sure what that has to do with orange juice.

jaytkay's avatar

I love America

You just hate the majority of the people here. You really should move. It’s not good for your health to be a hateful person.

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay FYI, I am not fond of an equal number of Republicans and my disgust is towards the politicians themselves and not a regular citizen as it is easy to be mislead and I don’t blame anyone for having hope of change. And I like it here because there is a stellar group of libertarians here that I really love to death and would greatly miss reading their words of wisdom.

jaytkay's avatar

@Cruiser OK, And you do not at all express a hateful personality either, I just couldn’t resist the quick quip

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay Me neither! lol

dalepetrie's avatar

Between @andrew and @Dr_C, they’ve nailed it. But I’ll interject a couple points here.

1) To expand on what @andrew said re why we pay for other people to be healthy, if you are healthy and you currently have health insurance, that’s what you’re doing. That’s why it’s called INSURANCE. It insures you in case you are the one who needs medical care. Since medical care is no longer affordable for anyone to just go out and purchase these days, you need insurance to negotiate better rates and pay part of that on your behalf in exchange for the premiums you put in. A healthy person and a sick person may both pay the same amount in insurance premiums, but even though the healthy person almost never goes to the doctor and the sick person goes twice a month, even though the insurance company puts out 1 grand a year for the healthy person and 25 grand for the sick person, that’s the very nature of insurance. You pay a small amount every month and if you get sick, you’re glad you did, and if you don’t get sick, you’ve subsidized those who did.

What you’re really looking at it that our system has become so inaccessible to so many people that people with enough money to be covered game the system by only getting insurance once they become sick, and people without enough money to get it have no choice to suffer and possibly die or drain our system by going to ERs where the costs are staggering to everyone else anyway. All this new law is doing is saying that hey, everyone will be covered so everyone can maintain their healthn without a financial burden, no one will have the incentive to just suffer, no one will have the incentive to use inefficient forms of health care, and no one will have the incentive to save money by gaming the system. And there are only two ways in which you are going to be “forced” to pay for someone else’s health care if you’re not already doing so. One will be if you are among the people who game the system, the people who are healthy now and don’t buy insurance. If you are among this group, you are essentially a ticking time bomb…you could get sick or be injured at any time and society would have to bear the costs of your frugality. So, you are going to be forced to buy insurance, because insurance isn’t supposed to be about what is true today, but about what might be true tomorrow. If you can afford to take life as it comes, meaning that you can afford to pay market rates for your emergency medical care if the unthinkable happens, then it might just be better for you to pay the penalty for not buying insurance. This penalty will basically just cover the cost of the people who thought they could take life as it came, until life really did throw them a curve ball, and now they too are a drain on society…well, problem solved.

The only other group of people who will NOW bear a greater responsibility for the maintenance of others’ health will be people who make a lot of money. Starting in 2013, IF you make 200,000 a year or more as an INDIVIDUAL, or 250,000 or more as a COUPLE, you will see a .9% deduction from the amount of your pay that is over and above 200k or 250k. So, how is that fair? Well, how is it “fair” that right now, every dollar you make up to 106,800 a year as an individual has 6.2% taken off the top for SS, but every dollar over and above that is tax free? That means that someone making 10 grand a year and barely surviving is paying 6.2% of their income in taxes, money they could spend on survival, while someone making 10 million a year is paying 66 thousandths of one percent on these taxes. I’d say .9% on every penny you make over a fifth to a quarter million dollars each year is getting off easy. If you’re in this group you should consider yourself lucky that your federal taxes as a percentage of your income are WAY lower than people making a LOT less money than you.

2) Regarding the ideal of illegal immigrants, again to expand on what @Dr_C pointed out, the problem is that our SYSTEM for allowing people to immigrate to the US is broken. Consider just for a moment as an American citizen how bad would your life have to be for you to:

a) move hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from your home, where you grew up, your friends, your family, your community
b) take a job paying well below market wages where you have no chance for a raise or promotion, you are worked extremely hard, you have no benefits, nothing but just enough cash to survive
c) enter a country with 330 million people where the majority of them hate you and want to send you home, some of whom would just as soon see you shot on sight
d) live and work in a system where if you were to get hurt or killed, or even taken advantage of by your employer in any way, or even if you were victimized by a criminal of any kind, you would have no legal recourse to do anything about it
e) have to pay your family’s entire life savings just to gain entry to this country, often with the assistance of violent people who will take no precautions for your safety and who will take advantage of you in any way they can.
f) have to live in constant fear that if you leave the shadows even a tiny bit, someone is going to turn you in, which is going to cost you years of legal battles, thousands of dollars in fees, and if you have a family, possibly you risk being separated from them for a very long time.

How bad does an immigrant’s life have to be that they would undergo this hell? Just for the privelege of working hard labor for slave wages so they can send most of what they make back to their impoverished families, while meanwhile they have to work 100 hours a week and share a 2 bedroom apartment with 14 other people and a million rats in the worst part of town. Bottom line, people come to the US seeking a life better than what they have at home, and the risks they take to get here indicate just how bad it is.

Now, one of the big arguments is “just get in line”, why whould anyone be able to just skip to the front of the line and come in when they want, shouldn’t it be up to the government to decide who gets in and who stays out? Great point, and would be worth considering, if such a line existed. But official US policy is if you’re from one of the 19 countries whose populations are “well represented” in American society, we don’t need any more of your kind. So, the only way you’re getting in is by being sponsored by an employer based in the US (but how does say a Mexican get a job within the US without ever setting foot on American soil?), or by marrying a US citizen, but AGAIN the marriage has to be legal in the eyes of the US and has to have been performed outside the US, again wihtout the immigrant setting foot on US soil. So, that takes care of a couple hundred of the foreigners who want or need to come here, what about the other people who are just deperate enough to risk life and limb in order to come here and work for almost no money?

Well, our system has answered that quetions. You see, big money interess such as slaughterhouses would have to pay an American a ton of money to do that job, plus they would want health insurance, life insurace, accidental death and dismemberment insruance, and would want some form of protection from harm in the line of duty, so they lobby our lawmakers to maintian the status quo. And that status quo basically says to everyone in those 19 countries who wants to come here…psst, tell you what, there’s a back door. you sneak in and then if you get caught, you can just tell the judge you want him to give you an adjustment in legal status. So our government ACTIVELY encourages illegal immigration, because it’s good to have a never ending supply of cheap labor, especially if companies can use them up, saves them a ton of liability costs, everyone’s happy.

Maybe instead of deporting everyone who tried to work the system the only legal way they had available to them the way our government intentionally has it set up, we should instead work to change the system so that it keeps out the riff raff, but lets in the hard working people who are more than willing to work and work HARD.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Cruiser Unfortunately, those great government pensions only exist for people who were hired before a certain date (I’m not sure exactly when). Us newer employees essentially have a 401k like lots of other folks…

nebule's avatar

@dalepetrie must have a special award for that answer me thinks…sheer brilliance!

lonelydragon's avatar

“Why pay for other people to be healthy?” My friend, you are already doing it. Ever heard of Social Security and Medicare?

dalepetrie's avatar

@lynneblundell – thanks, I appreciate the kind words.

susanc's avatar

@lonelydragon – Yep, and I’m an old person, so I get those things – those programs are there for people like me.
My husband used to tell me,
“You know, we paid that stuff forward, it’s not a gift.” But it
feels like somebody did me a major good deed.

ftp901's avatar

It benefits you to pay for other people’s health care because:

1. Someday you will be the person who needs the health care and you’ll be thankful that the resources are there to help you when you need them. If you suddenly became homeless, you might need the support of your society to keep you alive.

2. The more you can separate money transactions from health care activities & decisions, the better for everyone. By paying for health care costs up front (through taxes/insurance) it separates money from health care interactions. This decreases the likelihood that health care decisions will be affected by financial considerations. For example: a doctor choosing a cheaper treatment because of a person’s financial situation, or someone getting better treatment because they can afford to pay for it, or a person choosing not to go to the doctor because they can’t afford it. All of these people should be getting equal treatment.

3. Knowing that we, as a collective, have chosen to live according to values and a basic standard of human decency gives life some additional meaning. Growing up in a country where you know that your basic human needs will be met, rubs off on a person. I think growing up in a society where you can see tangible evidence that people are taking care of each other and you (and where people are treated equally as far as their basic needs are concerned) gives you a sense of compassion. It has a subtle psychological impact which leaves everyone feeling a shared sense of responsibility and compassion that bleeds into the way you interact with people. It’s a way to demonstrate shared societal values in a tangible way that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

SuperMouse's avatar

Opinion of an Uninsured American Ahead!

I am a full time student, a full time mom, and I hold down two part-time jobs – neither of which offers medical insurance benefits. I am in my 40’s with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, yet without any kind of insurance, I can’t afford preventative tests for either. This is the first time since I got my first full time job in my 20’s that I have been among the ranks of the uninsured and frankly I try not to think about it because I find it pretty frightening.

Why should people care if I am insured? Because if I do get sick, I am going to go to an emergency room for care. I will do my best to pay the bills,but we could be talking thousands and thousands of dollars. Frankly if it comes down to feeding my kids and keeping a roof over their heads or paying those bills the kids win – hands down. That puts the burden for the cost of treatment on the hospital. No hospital is going to be kind enough just to absorb the costs, they will pass them along to you – the insured patients. Yes, your insurance will cover their portion, but cranked up prices crank up the amount you are responsible for and the amount the insurance company pays for. As altruistic as we all like to think the insurance companies are, they are not going to absorb those extra costs, they are going to pass them along to you in the form of less coverage and/or higher premiums.

So, even when you take the idea of having compassion for other humans out of the equation, health care reform is fiscally responsible.

john65pennington's avatar

Dr C. i read your article in its entirety. i agree with most of your answer, except one point you apparently have forgotten. if the illegals were not here in the first place, they would not be having the problems of obtaining medical insurance. right? illegal means they are in The United States illegally. this comes first before anything else. no, i am not against anyone coming to America and being a citizen. this is the foundation that America was built on. but, have you ever wondered why the Feds are not enforcing the imigration laws? its because of the big American Factories built in Mexico and using their labor. does this situation not ring a bell with you that this is why the Fed Gov. is not enforcing the immigration laws? the big factories in Mexico are being held over the heads of our government officials and thus allowing immigrants to go unarrested in America. Please come to America to live and be employed. just do it legally.

augustlan's avatar

Great job answering this question, guys! You make me proud.

dalepetrie's avatar

@john65pennington – now read my previous answer. You say to immigrants, just do it legally. As I explained, there is no legal path to immigration for the vast majority of people who want to immigrate here. The “way” it’s done, the “way” our government encourages people to do it is to a) sneak across the border, b) get caught, c) at your deportation hearing, ask the judge for an adjustment in legal status d) spend a decade and tens of thousands of dollars fighting deportation and e) either be granted citizenship, or be made an example of so politicians can look “tough” on immigration. Sorry, man…them’s the facts. I know people personally who’ve been in this situation. I repeat, when you say to an immigrant, “get in line and immigrate legally,” you ignore the VERY important fact that THERE IS NO LINE.

So, what do we do about it? Fix the system, or tear 10 million people away from their homes, their spouses, their children, their communities, their jobs. I know which side makes more sense to me. Which is why @dpworkin says, hey, let’s legalize all these people. What needs to be done…

Step one – fix the system so people have a legal path to immigration BEFORE they sneak into the country.

Step two – declare complete and total amnesty for anyone who snuck over when the system was broken.

Step three – deport the people who don’t follow the rules and do it the right way, or who come here and abuse our laws.

Problem solved, no families torn apart, no crush on the health care system, no demonizing people as being “illegal” as if being “illegal” as a human was even possible.

Snarp's avatar

@john65pennington I’m a little confused as to how the factories in Mexico (maquiladoras) are being held over our heads to allow immigrants to go unarrested in America. How does that work, exactly? The maquiladoras reduce illegal immigration by providing jobs in Mexico, which reduces the need to flee to the U.S. for a job. Federal enforcement of immigration laws and efforts to secure the border have not decreased since the maquiladoras were created. There are three reasons that we have a lot of illegal immigrants, and maquiladoras are not among them. First, economic and political conditions in Mexico are terrible, and those in other Central American countries are even worse, while conditions in the United States are far better. Second, it’s simply extremely difficult to police a 2000 mile border, and when the pressure to immigrate is as strong as it is, it’s impossible. Short of a continuous wall with barbed wires and Soviet guards shooting crossers on sight, the border cannot be controlled. Third, there are a lot of businesses of all sized in the U.S. who want cheap, easily exploitable labor. It is these businesses who are influencing government policy, not the presence of maquiladoras in the border region. I might also note that U.S. maquiladoras are now closing at a fairly rapid clip as cheaper labor sources become available elsewhere.

So, the immigrants are coming, period. We can’t stop it. Is it better to just let them come, teach them English and job skills and their rights under the law without fear of deportation, and make them harder to exploit, integrate them into the economy so that they pay their full share of taxes and bring their families here so that the money they spend stays in the U.S. economy, or to have essentially the status quo, but with an increased fear of deportation due to stronger enforcement and a militarized border that divides centuries old cities and destroys wildlife corridors but does little to stem the flow of illegal workers who are easier to exploit than ever as their fear of Maricopa County jail exceeds even their fear of deportation?

noyesa's avatar

@john65pennington You think the federal government is being lax on immigration laws because they want to defend companies that are stealing duties, tax money, and tariffs away from the federal government to export American assembly jobs into slave labor shops and import the substandard resulting products back to the United States?

Globalization is a reality that unfortunately has engineered a race to the bottom, and it’s eroding the federal government’s tax base.

Illegal immigration is a sign that people are probably going to do whatever they want, short of the US government putting death squads on the border and shooting anyone who tries to “jump the fence”. And then they’ll probably just find another way in.

The issue is created by contrast. Social scientists study push and pull factors—conditions that push people away from one place and pull them to another. For the same reason that many urban cities in the eastern United States have hollowed out, people are leaving Mexico for opportunities in the US because the living conditions here, even for the poorest of the poor, are better than they are for a great number of people in Mexico.

As fast as our cultural conscience may think that countries like Mexico and China are rapidly advancing, these are extremely poor countries and the prospect of opportunity just across the border shouldn’t leave anyone surprised. It’s a difficult to police situation and the reward for those who do it is great. Great enough for them to risk all the hell that will come to them if they get caught.

Snarp's avatar

@noyesa It’s like you’re in my head!

john65pennington's avatar

Please do not knock the people on Social Security. we paid our way to this point in our lives and hopefully you will arrive at this point, someday in your life. wife and i paid our part into Social Security for many, many years. it was not just given free gratus to us. we earned it.

Snarp's avatar

@john65pennington I would never knock people on Social Security, but just to keep everyone intellectually honest, what you paid into Social Security doesn’t pay your benefits, I’m paying them now. What your generation put in doesn’t begin to be enough to cover your generation’s benefits. That’s OK by me, but it means that Social Security is not really that much different than the health care bill. It’s everybody helping to take care of each other instead of only looking out for themselves. It’s solidarity, collectivism, and everything everyone hates about health care reform, and I think it’s great.

Strauss's avatar

One of the problems with the Social Security trust fund is that it has been raided and the actual dollars in the fund have been largely replaced with IOU’s in the form of Treasury Bonds.

Snarp's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That’s not exactly true. Treasury Bonds are a generally secure investment, most major countries have significant holdings in them. The law requires them because they are more secure than stocks, and they are not in foreign currency. They earn interest higher than dollars in a bank, and no private company is profiting directly from loaning them out, which would create an unfair advantage to whatever bank they were in. The only other alternative would be a huge vault full of paper money that is constantly losing value to inflation. For your argument to be true it would mean that every rich person in America has raided their actual funds and replaced them with IOU’s in the from of Treasury Bonds, stocks, and other bonds, and the same could be said for every 401k or other investment fund. You can criticize the lack of diversification, but there are reasons for it as noted above, but investing the money in Treasury Bonds is not raiding the trust fund.

john65pennington's avatar

Sharp, thanks. i agree with your comment on the pay system. this was not our fault. somebody in the Fed gov should have had a watchdog on Social Security years ago. and, to make the necessary chages to make it self-sustaining for both you and i. agree?

Snarp's avatar

@john65pennington Not entirely, I think that some work needs to be done now to ensure long term solvency, but the nature of Social Security, in which one generation pays for the previous generation’s benefits I have no problem with.Frankly, it’s a lot like health care. It’s something that most people could never cover on their own, certainly not without a certain amount of luck. A lot of working people will never sock away enough on their own to pay for their retirement, and a lot of people suddenly found their 401ks that were supposed to save us all from the socialist evil of Social Security weren’t worth enough to retire because the market collapsed. And it’s going to collapse every twenty years or so, so we all have to just hope we divest at the right time to maintain our retirement? No, we all help each other out and there will be a lot less seniors in the kind of poverty they were in during the thirties.

dalepetrie's avatar

FWIW – I also would never knock Social Security, it’s the same type of thing to me as the health care reform…it’s part of a social safety net that needs to be strengthened, not weakened as our government has been doing for the past 40 years. First time in my lifetime we’ve actually strengthened the social safety net, even when we had Clinton in the White House, his welfare “reform” forced thousands of working moms into a workforce where they end up not even making enough money to pay for the child care that has now become necessary. And Social Security is not necessarily meant to be a 1:1 thing, it’s social insurance. Yes, some people pay in their whole lives, and take out when they retire and it balances out. Some people pay in and never make it to retirement. Some people pay in a little and become disabled and draw disability for 50 years. And that’s how it SHOULD be….the money should come from people when they have it and be given to them when they don’t.

Now yes, it used to be put in a separate fund and that money has been “borrowed”, but I really think that’s an overblown concern. The only way our government is going to “run out” of money is if China stops buying our T-bills, and that won’t happen because China is undergoing an industrial revolution right now, and the failure of the US would not only decimate their customer base, but it would also make trillions of dollars of their holdings worthless.

As for insolvency in terms of not collecting enough to cover what is paid out, again, when any other government program runs out of money, they borrow it from somewhere else, first of all. Second, when you really look at the calculations, it takes some fancy math to get us to the point where we’re in any imminent danger of this happening. It is many years before we’d be at the point where payouts have outstripped collections, and as we have done in the past, we will again make adjustments to ensure it’s continued solvency. As the average life expectancy goes up, the retirement age is also going to have to go up, just a fact of life. But really what could fix it right now would be to get rid of the cap on SS taxes. Right now, you only have to pay 6.2% (plus the employer’s 6.2%) on your income up to $106,800. If you make $40,106,800, you basically get 40 million that isn’t taxed. Fix that, you fix the system and could LOWER the retirment age.

In short, I suspect the biggest threat to Social Security is not its insolvency, but right wing attempts to move SS dollars into self directed investments in the stock market. If you remove the guarantee and leave it up to the investment skills of the average person, well the average person HAS no investment skills and would succeed or fail based entirely on a) luck, and b) the performance of the economy as a whole.

I’m all for personal responsibility for those things you can control, but Social Security, Medicare, and now Health Care have been recongized as societal needs…they are not meant to be under the control of any one person, they are there to ensure the stability of all individuals in our society.

Val123's avatar

DARN IT!! I just got off of work, only have 7 minutes to play! (I get off the computer at 5 every night) I wanted to read each and every post in it’s entirety! I’ll be back….

Cruiser's avatar

@dalepetrie “Step 4” Admit we already have a big enough problem with unemployment and “illegals” milking the teat of America for all it’s worth! Tough shit if the line is long as it is deservedly so as millions of unemployed AMERICANS sit and wait for our President to get his shit together and figure a way to re-employ AMERICANS before we provide health care and shelter to more illegals!

dalepetrie's avatar

@Cruiser – what you fail to see is that by having a broken immigration system, we are FORCING illegals to obtain health care from ERs, the single least efficient way to get it. Most would gladly buy insurance or get on their employers’ health plans if they could, but they can’t. And I’m sorry, but I don’t care how bad the economy is, and I say that as a professional with a college degree and 14 years of experience who has been out of work for 13½ months, immigrants will come here if they can find jobs, if the jobs don’t exist, they won’t come here. Clearly there are still jobs to be had that some American’s can’t or won’t do, or which companies would rather employ illegals for because they are cheaper.

This country has 330 million people, and we allow 55,000 applications a year for legal immigration…55,000…not admissions, but applications. And those 55,000 do not go to the people who really want/need them. You create a “reasonable” quota system that allows hard working people to immigrate legally, and you now what happens? They get health insurance from their employers and they don’t drain the system. And if the meat packing industry can no longer pay them slave wages and work them to death because they have legal recourse for employer malevolence, then maybe some of those jobs go to Americans, there are fewer jobs for the illegals to go after, less reason for them to want to immigrate here, problem solved. But again, if you’d rather fuck over families so some dickhead politician can say he’s “tough” on immigration, if that helps you sleep at night, so be it.

Snarp's avatar

I love the intellectual inconsistency. The government shouldn’t provide health care, but it should make sure everyone has a job? I got my neighbors Republican party flyer yesterday, and the first thing on the list of things the Republicans are suppose to fix? Unemployment. Yeah, suddenly government is responsible for people having jobs when it’s a good way to make political hay. But honestly, your policies and approaches failed and led to this unemployment in the first place. If you want to blame Obama, get back to me in 2012.

dalepetrie's avatar

@Snarp – you know what else Republicans have guaranteed in recent history? Immigration reform, which they’re now dead set against.

You may have seen a story I’ve posted elsewhere about how a friend of ours who was married to an illegal immigrant who came here illegally, because first coming here illegally is the way to gain legal status, and how he was deported on the same day his wife went into congestive heart failure, leaving his two American born kids with no means of support and a mother who couldn’t even pick them up lest it stress her heart too much.

This man was deported on January 20, 2005

January 20, 2005 was Bush’s second innauguration day.

The wife shocked us back in September when she said she was going to vote for Bush. We had to know why.

Her answer was that if he can keep my husband in the country, he has my vote.

Why would she say that?

Because the Bush campaign was sending out letters to people about to be deported, telling them that it was crucial for him to get a second term to work on immigration reform so that people like him would not be deported. It was almost a tit for tat…elect me, I’ll see to it that we don’t deport your husband. Approved by Bush’s campaign and the Republican part.

As soon as he swore into office after being re-elected, her husband was deported. We never got immigration reform. And now, Republicans don’t seem to want to cooperate in getting it.

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