Imposing Health Care Costs on Society
A blog I used to write was just a collection of quotes I liked. Early one was this one:
“Smokers don’t impose health care costs on society; governments that insist on paying for smokers’ health care impose health care costs on society.” — Sasha Volokh, from The Volokh Conspiracy blog
(This was done while the Volokh Conspiracy was still using Blogspot. They’ve moved to their own domain and the old one has a completely different kind of blog on it, so sorry, no link to the original post.)
It is, of course, a more wordy version of “Guns don’t kill; people kill” saying, retasked to a new subject. Sasha’s version was written in 2003. Seven years later, it takes on a new meaning.
I was reminded of this quote when I read this post from Bruce McQuain. He talks about the easy slide from Nanny State to Bully State, and how the opposition go the health care bill is and always was based on freedom, and what happens when government is given a bigger and bigger share of the freedom in this country, for whatever the good intention. He quotes a report from the Institute for Public Affairs that lists a series of assumptions governments make when they take over health decisions.
Most of the health care burden is driven by disease that results from lifestyle decisions.
Most of the health care burden is therefore, in theory, preventable.
The cost of most lifestyle-related disease is not recovered from the individuals with such diseases or from the industries whose products contribute to these diseases.
Individual autonomy cannot be the paramount value in health care.
Individual choice as a basis for health is ‘too simplistic’.
Individual freedoms may have to give way to the coercive power of the State.
Interventions, including coercive actions, to change behaviour may proceed in the absence of evidence of their effectiveness.
Individuals have a clear responsibility to refrain from lifestyle decisions that lead to disease and, consequently, treatment can be denied to those who refuse to change their behaviour.
With the passage of the health care reform bill, we’ve already slipped about halfway down this particular slope. Never mind smokers, Sasha, the official nationalization of this sector now means that all sorts of bad habits are guaranteed to affect everyone in the country because the government insists on it.
And this is different from insurance companies charging more for smokers or young drivers or people who sky dive. Insurance companies can’t make these choices illegal; they can only charge you more for the higher risk you are asking them to take on. The government, however, has far, far more power at hand.
It’s about freedom, and it’s being eroded away.
Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.