Tuesday, 22 April 2008, 18:52:55 EDT

"Healthcare is not a privilege. It's a right." -- Heather Arnet

Wrong! The only time anything close to "healthcare" is mentioned in the United States Constitution is in the one sentence preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

"Welfare" does not mean healthcare. Yes, it has to do with your health. But look at the full clause: "promote the general Welfare." That doesn't mean you are guaranteed to be healthy and happy from the day you are born until the day you die. It means the United States government, as established by the constitution that follows the preamble, will not do anything to prevent you from being healthy and happy. It in no way implies the government is there, nor obligated, to make you healthy and happy.

This healthcare issue is probably the most infuriating one being discussed in the presidential campaign. I agree that healthcare is too expensive. But that doesn't make it my responsibility to pay for your healthcare.

Let's examine the problem. Before health insurance people were expected to pay all of their own medical bills. Let's say you broke your leg and need a doctor to set it and cast it. Under the original model, the money comes out of your pocket. Simple. But then someone got the bright idea to "insure" you against such accidents for a monthly (or some other annual) fee. Now when you break your leg the insurance company will pay the bill. Awesome right? Hell no.

Think about it. Instead of a one time fee, you pay someone, who is not a doctor, an annual fee just in case you happen to break your leg. So now the doctor is getting paid by someone who has a lot more money than you (because they presumably insure many more people than just you). What is the doctor going to do? He's going to raise his prices because now his client can afford to pay more. Oh, but now the insurance company is going to raise the rate it is charging you to make up for the increased expense at the doctor. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

Doctors are now charging exorbitant amounts for their services because they expect you will have a giant corporation paying your bill (and all of the people charging him outrageous prices for his supplies since he has the money for it). In turn, the insurance company charges unaffordable prices for its policies. Now the individual can no longer afford health insurance. So employers start offering health insurance as a benefit of employment to attract skilled labor. This goes on for a while until the employers can no longer afford to pay the insurance for all of their workers. So they start cutting health insurance from their fixed costs.

And we arrive to our current situation. People find that they can no longer get a "free ride" at work (nevermind that the cost of health insurance was coming out of their pay). So they have to try and buy insurance on their own. They learn just how expensive it is and balk. Now they want the government to foot the bill; that is, they want everyone in the country to pay for their broken leg.

So now people think healthcare is a right. That's just perfect.