Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More on health care

There was an excellent question asked about my post on health care. The question was, "should children be required to have health care? I agree about adults b/c they (are) old enough to make that choice but what about a child?"

(The person asking was a friend I've known since high school. She's bright and wonderful, but I didn't ask her first, so I've left out her name.) 
(By the way, why does everyone who comes here from Facebook go back to Facebook to comment? Just wondering.)

Should children be required to have health care? There are two parts to this question, one being 'should children have health care' and the other being 'should the government require it'. We'll tackle the second question first, because it's easier. 

Nowhere in the Constitution, or in any of the Amendments, is Congress granted the power to compel citizens into commerce. (Haven't read the Constitution lately? Read it here.) Our government can't make us buy health insurance any more than it can make us buy anything else, whether we should have it or not. 

A snippet from a Huffington Post article:

Vinson agreed that lawmakers lack the power to penalize citizens for not doing something. He compared the provision to requiring people to eat healthful food.

"Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals," he wrote, "Not only because the required purchases will positively impact interstate commerce, but also because people who eat healthier tend to be healthier and are thus more productive and put less of a strain on the health care system."
I suppose the broccoli-eating example is a bit far-fetched, but I don't see why the government couldn't require that you buy broccoli. And a gym membership, since that would promote wellness as well. 

Let me be clear, I believe having health insurance is smart. I think most people should buy it. I also think people should give 10% of their income to charity. Just think of all the good that could be done with that 10%.. it would certainly 'promote the General Welfare'. But I can't make people do it. That would be wrong.

Here is another quote, from the same article:

Defenders of the law said that analogy (about broccoli) was flawed. Insurance can't work if people are allowed to opt out until they need medical attention. Premiums collected from many who are healthy pay the cost of care for those who get sick. Since the uninsured can get treated in the emergency room, deciding not to get coverage has consequences for other people who act prudently do buy coverage.

I think the question here is simple. Why on earth are people without insurance permitted to get free ER care? I certainly think anyone in an emergency situation should be treated, regardless of insurance coverage. Just send them a bill afterward. 

Let's compare health insurance to renter's insurance. We rent our home, currently, and we've taken out a policy that will pay to replace our belongings in the event of a fire, flood, or some other disaster. That was a smart thing to do. It's something all renters should do. But if we don't, that's our business. It's also our bill if the house were to burn down. The government does not and can not require us to insure our couch and TV. Even if we really should.

Congress does have the power to raise taxes to "promote the General Welfare". It is conceivable, then, that Congress could raise taxes to pay for health insurance for everyone in the country, if that was seen as promoting the welfare of all citizens. I'd like to see a politician vote for that tax hike. 

Missed the first part of this topic? Find it here. For my answer to the second question - Should children have health coverage - go here.  


  1. My apologies that this post looks so terrible - the spacing is all off, but I'm tired, the kids have been sick and my HTML editing is dreadful.

    Hope you get the drift anyway.

  2. Okay you have made me stop and think. Yes, I get your drift. However, there are many countries around the world that provide free health care and better health care than we are buying. Don't you think the Government should provide for at least the children (under 18) so that they can get yearly check-ups,needed shots,and other medical visits?

  3. Ok, I tried to answer your question in the post "What about the Children?". Hope that explains where I'm coming from.

    I would love, however, to know which countries provide free health care that is better than what we are buying.

  4. I am anxious to read your next post, Brieanna, but I can answer your question. I believe the answer is "None". Perhaps because I haven't lived in a socialist country I would be told otherwise and that I don't know what I'm speaking about, but the healthcare provided by those other countries certainly isn't free when many of them pay taxes of 40% or more to the government to pay for their "free" healthcare. Moreover, those countries are still going broke because they can't pay for it and the care gets worse and worse....

  5. Without the time to go into more detail right now, I'll only add that the government does require that people purchase auto insurance. These laws have been upheld in court as the health care law will most likely be.

    The constitutional basis for this law comes from both the necessary and proper clause (congress has the power to enact laws that provide for the general Welfare of the country), and the commerce clause (regulating commerce between the states).

    Desirability of the law aside, it's unlikely Vinson's decision will be upheld. There is some question about the direction of this current Court, but striking down this law would be a significant departure from past precedent and an incredible act of judicial activism.