On Medical Insurance and Personal Responsibility

By James Schaefer.

Paying routine medical bills out of pocket, as our parents and grandparents did before us, is part of life.

It is no different from our obligations to put food on the table, to pay the rent or mortgage, to work, and to be productive, law-abiding citizens.

Insurance protects against risk, and as  result it buys peace of mind.  A person has health insurance not to pay routine bills, but for the same reason one carries umbrella (liability) insurance: to protect one’s home and retirement savings from catastrophic events.

Health insurance is not meant to cover all medical costs, including routine ones, or all medical decisions, including elective ones.

Having a high-deductible medical policy is an individual’s choice, not the government’s.  It is generally less expensive than other health insurance options, it’s less likely that you’ll call on the insurance company for payment.

But more importantly, insurance reinforces the sense of responsibility a person has — and should have — as the head of a family: we pay our bills, and we understand that there’s no free lunch.

That collective sense of responsibility becomes the fabric of society.

However noble its intentions, whenever government intervenes it weakens that sense of responsibility, and, perniciously, it reinforces the concept that citizens can get something for nothing.  It encourages free ridership, and it punishes personal responsibility.

Means-testing, unfortunately, only makes matters worse: it exacts an economic toll on those who do their best to be responsible, productive citizens.

Mr. Obama, eloquent and capable speaker that he is, should be advocating personal responsibility, not dependency on government.  He would be amazed at how many people — from both sides of the aisle — would listen, and applaud.

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