Republicans seem to believe that life is nothing but a series of choices. We choose to be gay (or by extension, straight). We choose to be poor. We choose to unemployed. We choose to live where there are lousy school systems or where there are no available healthy foods. Wealth, they theorize, has nothing to do with luck. It’s all about good choices. Apparently, you can choose to be born into a wealthy family. Michele Bachmann, a woman who lets God make most of her choices, told Sean Hannity that the idea that people can’t afford health insurance is not true. They simply choose to be uninsured.
From Think Progress:
BACHMANN: One argument that the government was trying to make is that somehow health care is uniquely different. That government can regulate it because everyone participates. Health insurance is not uniquely different. It’s still an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not. And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.
Here’s the video:
According to the United States Census Bureau (yes, I know how Bachmann feels about them), nearly 50 million people are without health insurance. The median income is less than $50,000. That comes out to about $4100 a month. For a family, the average cost of health insurance is about 10% of that. That might not sound like a lot, but for the party that says that at $250,000 a year, people struggle, too much to pay just 3% on earnings above $250,000, you think they’d understand that at a fifth of that income, every single penny would count.
Oh, but it gets worse, pre-existing conditions, which can range from something as common as asthma or even acne to life threatening illnesses, can take people out of the market altogether. In other words, they have no choice in the matter. No one will insure them. It’s estimated that up to 50% of people have pre-existing conditions. For people over 55, that number jumps to nearly 86%. If they are approved for coverage, they can be charged exorbitant premiums.
In fact, simply not having health insurance for an extended period of time can take you out of the running to buy health insurance. A two month gap (63 days) is enough to allow a health insurance company to claim you have a pre-existing condition, even if you’ve never been treated or diagnosed with one.
By putting the blame on the American people for a problem that is clearly systemic, Bachmann is burying her head in the sand. The lack of health insurance options coverage is not just a personal problem for 50 million people, it is a societal problem. 62% of all bankruptcies are due, at least in part, to medical bills. Last year, about 1.3 million people filed for bankruptcy. Much of the cost has been passed onto the taxpayers. That of course, doesn’t count the unpaid emergency room visits, which are passed on to the taxpayer, to people with insurance and supplemented with higher overall medical costs.
I will grant Bachmann one thing. There are people who perhaps can pay the premiums, but because they are healthy, they feel it is not a priority. Yes, taking healthy people out of the system and leaving only sick people, does increase costs. For that reason, I’d say Bachmann is making the perfect argument for a health care mandate.