Wednesday, May 6, 2009



By : Ms. Deborah G. Cunningham, M.S. (Bakery Management), B.S (Health Care Billing Systems) (Technical College of Southwest Texas at Pedejo Gulch); Senior Policy Advisor, The Institute for Increased Family Responsibility, Dallas, Texas; Mother of Four; President & Rally Coordinator, Southwest Texans United for More Bush (2008 Campaign).

Europeans commonly criticize our country because we do not provide basic health coverage to our citizens. Rather, they say, we leave our citizens dangerously underprotected because we require them to make their own choices concerning health coverage. According to these critics, many well-meaning people cannot compete in the private insurance market, leaving them open to preventable illness and death. They also say that it is unfair to peg health coverage on employment, since very many people have difficulty finding jobs, and even if they do, many employers do not even provide health coverage. In sum, these Europeans call us “inhumane free marketeers” who commit moral transgressions against our own people. They say we have no qualms about allowing our most vulnerable citizens to go without health coverage simply because they are not “responsible” enough to get insurance.

We have a simple response to these criticisms: We believe in responsibility. In America, we do not look to the government to tie our shoes or pay for diapers. Rather, we are rugged individuals. We take life by the horns and get things done with our own two hands. Responsibility is a lifestyle. It means knowing who you are and what you are supposed to do in life. It means you understand who employs you and what they expect. It means you understand that you’re running the show, not your mommy, daddy or the government. Responsible people buy health insurance; that is what they are supposed to do. Responsible people are also supposed to find a job, show up at work and shut up. They do not sit around and whine about life or health insurance. They go out, look for competitive prices, compare options and make informed, reasonable purchases. Health insurance is like any other commodity. And in America, responsible people do not need the government to tell them what to buy. We do not live in a central African thuggocracy; no one tells us what to do.

We have no moral obligation to people who are too irresponsible to buy their own health insurance. Contrary to the European view, we do not feel collective shame that some people have access to top-notch medical care in our society, while others have none. Uninsured people cause their own predicament. We cannot feel shame or compassion for people who could have gotten a job, saved money and purchased an affordable health insurance policy. Nobody stopped them from buying coverage; they chose not to buy it and now they must live with the consequences. Responsible people look to their own needs and make purchases to suit those needs. Irresponsible people try to slide by and let others pick up the tab. In our view, we cannot feel compassion for people who try to foist the bill on hard-working, responsible Americans. What message would that send? What incentive would it provide for responsible people to work hard, get a job, be responsible and make informed economic decisions if they had to indemnify irresponsible people? In that situation, irresponsibility would triumph over responsibility. As a Nation, that would set a horrific precedent. That is why we feel no remorse for allowing uninsured people to go without care. Responsibility should bring rewards, not liabilities. By contrast, irresponsibility should bring suffering.

Uninsured people love to complain. They say they want to be responsible, but there is just no way for them to pay for health insurance. They say it is too expensive. They say that insurance companies refuse to cover them. They say they have untreatable conditions. They say they work at jobs that do not provide health coverage. They say they have too many other expenses to afford another major monthly bill. They say they are in debt. They say they do have insurance, but a loophole prevents them from being reimbursed for some arcane treatment. In essence, this is irresponsibility. Responsible people do not make excuses; they stoically accept the consequences of their own bad decisions and carry on. If these whiners really wanted to get health insurance, they could have bought it. They could have asked their parents for some help. They could have gotten loans from financial institutions. They could have sold their car. They could have mortgaged their room. Their own laziness prevented them from getting insurance, not “impossible circumstances.” Health insurance is not expensive. Healthy, working Americans can get excellent coverage for less than $1,000 per month. That is not a significant expense for a responsible, working person. And we have a simple lesson for the uninsured: If you feel you can’t afford health coverage, try trimming some luxuries. Don’t live beyond your means. First things first. Get insurance. Don’t buy televisions, video game consoles and cars. When you say that you can’t afford insurance, you just don’t want to give up your television, Friday night beer binges and movie nights, do you? If you were responsible, you would never have landed in this spot in the first place.

We believe that uninsured people are irresponsible. Irresponsible people provide minimal value to our society. To that extent, we believe that it is good to allow them to get sick without treatment. If irresponsible people die, what difference does it make? What do we lose? Nothing. On the other hand, responsible people obtain health insurance. They are worth protecting. When a responsible person gets sick, he goes to the doctor and receives care. It would harm our society if responsible people go without care or die. To that extent, health insurance protects responsibility and preserves responsible people. At the same time, it punishes irresponsibility. Irresponsible people do not obtain insurance. If they get sick and die, we lose nothing as a society. What do we lose when an unemployed, libertine, selfish money leech gets cancer and can’t receive care at a good hospital? Responsible people earn what belongs to them. We have no problem allowing an irresponsible person to suffer for his own bad choices. We do not give benefits to people who do not earn them. Irresponsibility is bad for society. Our private health insurance system provides an admirable way to punish it. In short, we believe that responsible people are worth saving. Irresponsible people are not. Although idlers and beggars may escape God’s justice on earth, our private health insurance system provides a fitting, secular replacement.

Europeans, especially the Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians and English, find these sentiments revolting. They think it is an international disgrace that we allow so many people to live their lives without health coverage. They say everyone should be entitled to some basic medical care at State expense. On this point, we interpose a fundamental objection: We do not believe in government entitlements. We believe in minimal government. Entitlements expand government. In America, citizens are entitled to two government functions: (1) Paying taxes; and (2) Imprisonment or death at a State institution for committing crimes. Those are the only things Americans may rightly expect from government. For everything else, they have their own responsibilities. Government does not tie our shoes in this country. Rather, it provides a free framework in which private individuals may establish their own rules according to contract law. Private enterprise made this country, and it will sustain this country. Private health insurance is just another example of robust private enterprise. Responsibility makes our system work. Entitlements weaken responsibility. That is why we do not entitle our citizens to anything except taxes, imprisonment and death. They must be responsible or suffer the consequences.

Private enterprise and responsibility bring many rewards. They make our medical community stronger than any other on earth. American doctors and pharmaceutical chemists offer the most effective treatments for every possible disease, precisely because they know the government will not plunder their earnings. American medical science performs miracles every day because we pay our doctors what they deserve. But we would not encourage future miracles if doctors performed miracles for irresponsible people. Only those with qualified, paid-up health insurance may receive revolutionary medical treatment in this country. If an irresponsible person has a rare kidney disease and no insurance, he will not receive life-saving treatment. In this way, our society rewards responsibility and punishes irresponsibility. So far, it has worked extremely well. After all, who really remembers irresponsible people who die? No one. Yet we remember the medical miracles performed upon responsible people, because responsible people are worth saving. Thankfully, medical science receives just pay when it saves responsible people. If medical science cared for everyone equally, it would receive no pay. And who would want to be a doctor or pharmaceutical chemist without pay? If we allow government to pay pennies for medical science, we will drive away our greatest medical talents. Doctors are private commercial actors in a free market system, not saints or shamans. They expect high pay, and only our private enterprise system can provide them the pay they deserve. Put simply, irresponsible people do not pay their doctors. They do not deserve medical miracles. In America, only paying customers have a right to demand services. Medicine is no exception.

In sum, we do not feel the least bit bad about health insurance in America. Health insurance companies help our country. They advance medical science and make medical miracles possible. They allow Americans to receive swift, effective medical care. By contrast, Europeans and Canadians—who do not pay for private health insurance—die like flies in hospital waiting rooms because it takes 17-24 weeks to receive emergency treatment. For discretionary procedures, it takes even longer to receive necessary care. Additionally, socialized medical systems do not use anesthesia or sterile operating tools. Rather, they use stone bludgeons and garden clippers. Worse, doctors in these systems earn less than nightclub bartenders. This is the price of irresponsibility. Yet in America, responsible patients face no such dangers. Our private health system provides compassionate, timely and technologically advanced care for responsible customers. It is not difficult to obtain access to these wonders. One must merely pay a monthly health insurance premium and meet the insurer’s insurability qualifications, subject to all relevant contractual exclusions.

Responsibility is the best policy. We applaud our health system because it reinforces responsibility in America. We squarely reject all European reasoning about morality, ethics, compassion, entitlement and “State obligation” in health care questions. When it comes to responsibility, we trust the American people. They know what they owe. They know what they are supposed to do. They know their bosses. They do not wait for handouts, nor do they complain about their self-inflicted misfortunes. They grit their teeth, work through adversity and somehow carry on. In a word, it is not impossible to get health insurance in America. Anyone can buy it as long as they have the money. And anyone can get it through an employer if they have the strength, dedication and zeal to get a job. Even in tough times like these, Americans always find a way—a responsible way.

That is what makes us different than Europeans. We live responsibly. We look to ourselves and we look the other way when irresponsible people suffer. We do not feel shameful; we just get back up, go to work and pay our health premiums. Irresponsibility is not our problem. We are not here to help others. We are here to be responsible. You can be responsible, too. Don’t complain. Just get up, get out there and do it.

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