Archive for April, 2012
To start, this will be all over the place and brusque. And it certainly won’t be considerate of your medical history. Such is the scenario with American health care. The following perspectives should be public knowledge – though I doubt seriously the extent to which the majority of Americans have thought deeply about them. So to offset what may upset I will say, Happy Easter to Christians and Chag Sameach to those of Jewish faith (as of sundown, this past Friday)!
And why not begin an ethics of public health with these undertones? It’s clouding the news these days: the Constitutionality of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, as proposed by the President Obama Administration and passed under the 111th US Congress, then signed into law by the former. “Obamacare.” First thing’s first, to sum it up at its surface level, “Obamacare” is an array of political interests that coalesced into a law with several provisions – only one of which is a mandate that all individuals have some form of health insurance by a certain date (whether private, public, or quasi-public, as provided by a not-for-profit contractor). That is to say, the individual mandate is not analogous to Obamacare; it is one of the many intricacies within Obamacare.
Now that that’s cleared up, this essay will focus on that very provision. At root in the mandate’s purpose is the desire to facilitate and propagate the benefit of improved overall public health. Societal health, that is. What that surely amounts to is American individuals’ sacrifice at some level, big or small – be it being forced to buy insurance for oneself, forced into an insurance coverage exchange, forced to pay taxes for others’ insurance, or remaining absolutely unaffected, beyond paying the taxes one already pays. The extent to which these are stratified in effect needs no further analysis herein. But for all intensive purposes, let’s agree: it will be beneficial for some, suck for others, or really not significantly impact most – beyond the fact that they agree or disagree with the “mandate,” and are already paying taxes for others’ insurance by law (Medicare, Medicaid, Disability, Social Security, the like).
Let’s pause there and look no further into its specifics. Instead let’s start, as appropriate on Easter Sunday, by clouding the political dynamic with the religious undertones I began with. Why not? After all, this is something that the right of the aisle has become politically adept at doing. First, on Christianity and the parables of ‘helping thy neighbor,’ perhaps at one’s own shortfall materially, consider the tale of the Good Samaritan.
The moral of Jesus’ parable is – by one of many round-about Biblical means – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Help people, be nice, do what’s right. Because that’s what you would want for yourself if you were banged up and bleeding on the side of the road. Whether or not it’s at one’s own expense to help a person bleeding – their time, cost of travel to the hospital, etc., they’re likely to do it because it’s the right thing to do. The most impassioned believer might even pay a penniless person’s medical bill. One of good faith would ardently support these values at their core. Man oh man, lest these ethics translate unto public health. A Democratic talking point to use henceforth might be, “For those who love God, know that helping others at your own expense will not go unnoticed by God”. Would that assuage the debate? It seems not. Now, sure, there are multiple contradictory factors to compare regarding the political Right’s ardent hatred of “health care reform” and ardent love of the religious values of helping others’ no matter ones’ own expense, but I’ll leave it there for your own consideration.
And what of this mandate’s economics? Here we can blast the Left. Short of ‘socializing’ health (something appalling to the American Right and politically unfeasible in the U.S.), it’d seem the standard middle-ground would be to settle upon something that involves choice, not government mandate, right? Right?