Exactly one year ago today, the federal government enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Policy debates aside, part of the debate surrounded the shared responsibility that Americans have to the health and well-being of each other. President Obama certainly took this belief into his push for the bill. He recognized the politically dangerous position he took, but he firmly believed that having health insurance is a fundamental right of every American. To demonstrate that point, he pushed through Congress a bill with nearly 1,000 pages.
Sorry, Mr. President, but you are wrong; obtaining low-cost health insurance is not a right. Our government has been the central force behind rising health care costs. Government is the problem, not the solution. In fact, the belief that our government should manage and redistribute wealth is a serious affront to what a moral action would entail. It demonstrates the belief that we are responsible for the lives of others before our own.
No doubt, being born with a particular genetic condition is a difficult circumstance to manage in many instances. However, look at the complex difficulties that are imposed by the government. Mandates of unnecessary health coverage raise costs on the consumer. Fully open markets are prevented by not allowing insurance purchasing across state lines. On our so-called behalf, government is taking more of our responsibility and choice away.
It establishes the pretext for more attacks against the spirit of American individualism. Take the responsibility for your personal wellness seriously, and you are rewarded with a tax bill for your neighbor who does not. In fact, the current health care reforms wouldn’t work without them – who would pay for all those “unhealthy” people in the world if not for the health coverage mandate that will particularly harm healthy and productive young Americans. The government is creating, and encouraging, a moral hazard that rewards risky behavior and punishes rational decision-making.
Moreover, it is flat out dehumanizing to declare that people are incapable of identifying their health needs without government intervention. The current health care debate epitomizes the morally objectionable premise by our current president and millions of others that “poor” people are simply incapable of living their life without a government hand pointing the way. What’s the purpose of living when the government can and will tell you the “best” way to live?
The lives of people do not belong the state, the society, or their neighbors. Any expectation that people do what’s best for others before themself is an insult to what makes us living, breathing humans. Our moral obligation is to protect the individual, and that includes the right to personally decide how to best protect their health.
In terms of public policy, that means a complete reversal of America’s current health care regime. Government regulations on insurance must completely end, starting with the costly mandates that drive up costs and decrease availability. Second, we must end the government sanctioned moral hazard that rewards slovenly behavior. Third, we must reinforce that individual health is an individual responsibility.
Living well does not mean living easy. It takes hard work on a daily basis to maintain peak physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It is hard work that can never be redistributed; the life of one person can never contribute to the life of another without a free exchange between the two. However, that free exchange must always begin with a rational, intelligent, engaged individual who understands what their needs are and how to best meet them. The quickest way to undermine that is to live in a country where the government makes decisions for you, and requires you to accept it.