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The idea that the uninsured already get free healthcare is often used as an argument against universal health care.  It seems to me that if this were true, it should be used as an argument FOR universal health care.

There are arguments against universal healthcare that do hold water, but this isn’t one of them.

If the uninsured are getting free health care, who do you think is paying for it?  The same people who pay for the merchandise shoplifted from Wal-Mart.  That would be the paying customers.

This is true in any business.  If you have losses of any kind, you have to incorporate the amount of those losses into your pricing structure.  It doesn’t matter if those losses are caused by shop lifting, unpaid receivables or losses due to fire.  Your paying customers have to make up for those losses or you go out of business.

So if the uninsured are getting free health care, isn’t it in our best interests to get them to share some of those costs?  If we all pay for our health care for through our taxes, the uninsured will not only become the insured, but they will start paying for their share of their medical care.

The truth is that the free healthcare that many pundits talk about is rarely free and it usually isn’t very good.  Unless an adult qualifies for Medicaid he or she isn’t likely to get free health care of any significance.  One generally has to have an extremely low income and virtually no assets to qualify for Medicaid.

For the rest of the uninsured, although they may be treated by a hospital whether or not they can afford to pay for it, chances are the treatment will be limited and they will be billed for that treatment.  The mandated treatment a hospital provides to the uninsured is limited to emergency care.  This means that they are forced to treat a man who is had a heart attack today, but not the underlying causes that will prevent his neighbor from having a coronary next year.

The poor man who had the heart attack will probably have his credit ruined, will lose time from work or become permanently disabled and will have a greatly “improved” chance of going bankrupt and/or losing his house.  You can also forget about any money he saved for his daughter’s education.  Uninsured medical bills (and the income reduction that is caused by the disability that often comes with those bills) is the number one causes of bankruptcy and foreclosure even in a recession.

As I said earlier, there are good arguments against universal health care or at least good arguments against a particular proposal.  The potential costs, the potential of having a limited choice of doctors and the fact the government is often less efficient than the private sector are all arguments worth listening to.  However the idea that the uninsured already have free health care is specious.  The people who are saying this in the media do, or should, know better.  Now you do too.

Your comments are welcomed.

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Alston

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