With confirmation bias rampant, sometimes it makes sense to me to try to boil problems down to basics, so I have tried to do that here. A writer in the Globe thinks he is the only one who can see through the Emperor’s new clothes, but he fails to look beyond his own prejudices for the real problem. Below is the piece I offered in rebuttal this morning. If Mr. Eberhardt is typical, the subject of medical care is still confusing people.
On the Globe’s opinion page (3/17/2011) Duane Eberhardt had some fun slamming Democrats for their foolishness in passing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., ObamaCare, in
that it requires insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions. He likens it to waiting until after an accident to buy auto insurance or until after a fire to buy house insurance. Well, it does sound pretty silly. But suppose there were a law on the books that forced repair shops and builders to fix the cars and rebuild the burnt-down houses regardless of the ability of the owners to pay? Who then would want to buy insurance?
That is exactly the situation we have had in the healthcare industry for the last 35 years. From Wikipedia: “The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act . . . passed in 1986 . . . . requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result . . . , patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.”
As a society we Americans are unwilling to see anyone want for needed medical care and
we also like to live in the moment. We save little for the future and we indulge ourselves in unhealthy lifestyles. Medical care is expensive and science keeps coming up with expensive equipment and medicines to offset those lifestyles, but we don’t want to pay for insurance until we need it. EMTALA allows people to do that and that’s why the system is broken.
The ACA is an attempt to make the best of a bad situation, but Mr. Eberhardt is right that it invalidates the basic concept of insurance. But he is wrong to slam the Democrats for it. Why? Because just like the GOP he offers no solution to the dilemma of EMTALA.