Thomas Sowell

The endless repetition serves a political purpose but digging into the underlying facts might undermine that purpose. Many find it sufficient to say that the uninsured cannot "afford" medical insurance. But what you can afford depends not only on how much money you have but also on what your priorities are.

Many people who are uninsured have incomes from which medical insurance premiums could readily be paid without any undue strain. But they choose to spend their money on other things. Many young people, especially, don't buy medical insurance and elderly people already have Medicare. The poor have Medicaid available, even though many do not bother to sign up for it, until they are already in the hospital-- which they can do then.

Throwing numbers around about how many people are uninsured may create the impression that the uninsured cannot get medical treatment, when it fact they can get medical treatment at any hospital emergency room.

Is this ideal? Of course not. But nothing is going to be ideal, whether the current medical care legislation passes or not. The relevant question is: Are the problems created by the current situation worse than the problems that will be created by the pending legislation? That question never seems to get asked, much less answered.

No small part of our current medical care problems have been created by politicians who drive up the cost of medical insurance by mandating that insurance cover things that many people are unwilling to pay for.

Many of us are willing to pay for treatment of a sprained ankle ourselves, if we can get less expensive insurance to cover us just for catastrophic illnesses. But that is one of many decisions that politicians have taken out of our hands. There will be many more decisions taken out of our hands if Obamacare passes.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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