Do the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the individual? Or do the rights of the individual outweigh the needs of the many?
Much of the debate about the “repeal” of Obamacare and whether to “replace” it with TrumpCare centers around the mandate that individuals must purchase health insurance, and that companies must make insurance available without exception.
Those in favor of mandates say this will make health insurance more affordable if everyone buys it because the risk is spread, and people have the “right” to healthcare.
Opponents say health care is a “choice” and no one should be forced to pay for coverage for themselves, or for others.
Proponents of mandates and no exclusions say that for the good of everyone we need as many people as possible covered by insurance.
Opponents say it is unconstitutional to mandate anyone purchase insurance against their will. But car insurance is a perfect example of mandating people to buy insurance coverage for their own good, and the good of everyone else on the road, too.
In essence, the arguments boil down to which side of one fundamental question you are on: Do the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the individual, or do the rights of the individual outweigh the needs of the many?
One of the arguments against mandates is that we already have a safety net funded by everyone to cover those without insurance. Whenever someone who cannot afford to pay for health care walks into an emergency room, the tax payer ultimately pays. We also have Medicaid to cover the disabled, children, the indigent and seniors requiring long-term care.
But in 2016 alone the United States spent an unsustainable $ 114,913,734,901 on Medicaid for long-term care services. And Medicare is projected to be broke in less than 20 years, Medicaid budgets in every state are at their limit and many are now underwater.
In today’s land of the Healthcare Hunger Games, our shared economic reality is that it is an unsustainable proposition that we can continue to provide massive amounts of healthcare through the government and taxpayer dollars alone.
Government-subsidized health care is an important safety net for millions of people, but we are in the midst of a national re-set when it comes to how people will qualify for subsidized care. More and more people are going to be pushed towards private pay in health care and long-term care, and although there will be plenty of screaming and shouting the shift is already underway.
Whether it is a person who relies on the emergency room to receive health care or a person who spends down their assets to qualify for Medicaid to cover their long- term care costs; they are limiting their choices and options to receive the best possible care.
Private insurance for health care and long-term care provides more choice and better quality of care for the individual than government/taxpayer-subsidized care. Use of resources such as employer-based or individually purchased health insurance, long- term care insurance, and conversion of life insurance policies into long-term care benefit accounts or exchanged for lifetime annuities, are some examples of private market solutions that are in the best interest of the individual as well as in the best interest of the many.
A nation’s health care system is a reflection of its core principles. As the “repeal and replace” debate rages on, we are witnessing a national tug of war about fundamental beliefs in rights vs. privilege, state vs. federal, individual vs. collective, mandates vs. self-determination, and other conflicting elements about the soul of our divided nation.
Whichever side of the debate you are on, the reality is that we are more at the beginning of these Games than the end.
Chris Orestis, Executive Vice President of GWG Life, is an over 20-year veteran of the insurance and long-term care industries and is nationally recognized as a healthcare expert and senior care advocate. He is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who has provided legislative testimony; the author of two books: “Help on the Way” and “A Survival Guide to Aging”; a frequent columnist with a currently popular series entitled “The Healthcare Hunger Games”; and has been a featured guest on over 50 radio programs and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Kiplinger’s, Investor’s Business Daily, PBS, and numerous other media outlets.
For more DAILY VIEWS, The News’ contributor network, click here.