Vail Daily letter: We can’t afford to pay for everyone’s health care |

Vail Daily letter: We can’t afford to pay for everyone’s health care

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

The origin of this thought is uncertain, but it is a valid point that’s been around a while and widely repeated. Apply it to health care, which is in the news a lot lately.

Whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare or whatever they’re calling the latest Republican plan, they share a common defect: We can’t afford them. We can’t afford to pay for everyone’s health care.

To call these schemes insurance is deceptive. If I build my house of straw, I can expect to pay more for fire insurance than if I build my house of brick. If I have a number of moving violations on my driving record, I expect to pay more for car insurance than if I have a clean record. If I am 55 years old, life insurance costs more than for someone in his or her 30s. People don’t seem to have a problem with this elementary principal of insurance. More risk means higher premiums, or being rejected by the insurer.

But if you apply such a standard to health insurance, people get upset. Like being charged more for a pre-existing condition.

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Do any of the above programs propose charging more for those with bad health circumstances — overweight, smoking, no exercise, bad diet, risky life style? Imagine the outrage.

We have to find ways to make people adopt healthier lifestyles that lower medical expenses. What incentives, other than higher premiums or exclusions, can be used? If you want to leave yourself open to avoidable demands for health care, that’s your business — until I am asked to pay for it.

Back to the opening quote: We have a government by the people. They elect the politicians, who are scared of being rejected in the next election if they get candid about national debt in general and health-care costs in particular.

The programs described above are what you call unfunded mandates. The taxes proposed to pay for them, and the amount of money needed to pay for them, do not match.

I know, the lefties say they’ll get more from the rich people and the corporations. No you won’t. Wait for more details in my essay on tax reform; but in general, there will be a large part of these health-care costs that will be put on the national credit card — the national debt, which is a looming disaster.

Terry Quinn


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