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The Case for Government Supplied Health Insurance

By       Message Joe Bechtold     Permalink
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When you speak with a conservative about providing people with health insurance you get a number of answers. In this article I will address the belief that this is too expensive, that such a system will be abused, and that this system will restrict one's choices. Another common argument against this program is that the government is incapable of running such a program; I will address this belief in another article however.

I would tend to agree that our current system is much too expensive. However, other countries such as Switzerland, Germany, and France that provide all their citizens with health insurance spend less of their GDP (a measure of national income and output) on healthcare. So if it is possible in other countries to provide everyone with comprehensive health insurance for less than we are spending now why is it that its impossible here? Obviously to provide such a system here taxes must be increased, and the argument is that an increase in taxes would hurt the people and thus the economy. For everyone who buys their health insurance or is provided it by their employer it is simply a different person to pay. The real harm is argued for those with low incomes who don't have health insurance and would be paying money they would otherwise be using for necessities in taxes. The true problem here is not that providing low income people with health insurance would put them on the street and starve them because of higher taxes, in actuality the real problem is that their wages are not high enough. If these people were provided with a living wage these higher taxes wouldn't be a problem. Of course then this would move back to harming the economy, because wages will increase then prices will increase, but that is the point of a living wage, increasing wages to a point that people can afford all the necessities of life.

The second argument one will tend to hear is that people will abuse the system. An argument like this is invalid, should we not have a police department because someone will call the police every time they hear their neighbors being loud outside? No system is free of abuse. The abusers of our current system are the CEOs of these insurance companies who are compensated millions to billions of dollars. Is it more desirable for them to profit off of providing health insurance than to have someone who would go to the doctor every time they had the sniffles? I would much rather have the abusers of the system be healthier people than to have a few people profiting immensely from denying people necessary health coverage and services that they pay for.

Lastly is that the system will restrict one's choices. I would argue that our current system restricts one's choices also, that only those who can afford health insurance can be provided coverage and the choices within all the different available coverage is limited. The beauty of a single payer health system is that the government (which consists of you and I the voters) can see to it that all licensed doctors and physicians are under the plan. Thus you are not limited to a "preferred network"- of doctors as you are now with any health insurance plan. Also your care would not be any more limited than it is now, currently your health insurance company must give the ok to you receiving healthcare. Instead of a private corporation deciding whether or not you can receive the service it will be a public official which you elect. Clearly a government provided health insurance would give citizens more choices than they have now.

With my arguments clearly made against conservative beliefs I would like to pose a question. If you don't believe someone has the right to healthcare, what earns someone that privilege? Is it the fact that they have a job? I would be willing to concede that government provided health insurance would be only available to those citizens who have a job or are on unemployment (which of course is limited). But maybe that is not enough, maybe it is the amount you are compensated for your work that determines if you have the privilege to have health insurance. If such is the case I would like to know at what level of compensation one should be able to have health insurance. Also, do you believe that our current system of compensation is fair to all workers? Lastly I would like to know why the system of compensation is fair or unfair.

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