Role Reversal

Isn't it odd how the debate on the individual mandate makes conservatives forget to be conservatives?  There's a good conservative argument for the mandate.  People without insurance benefit from emergency rooms that are required to give them care.  Even if they never visit the ER in the next year, its existence puts them at lower risk of a medical disaster. If they don't pay for their unused care, and people with insurance do pay, the non-payers are freeloaders.   Conservatives should be saying "hell no!"  But in fact, it's liberals who want the mandate.  They want it not so much to catch freeloaders, but because they think everyone should have all the benefits of medical insurance.  I want the individual mandate for both reasons, being a liberal with a conservative impulse or two.  It's tiresome hearing uninsured people on the radio saying they're healthy and don't want to visit doctors. Of course they'll go to the emergency room if they have a problem, and of course it's good for them that it exists, however much they use it.  Pay-as-you-go makes about as much sense as charging trapeze artists for a safety net only after they fall. Or charging people for the fire department, only if they have a fire.

p.s.  Good stuff here.  Sigh.

p.p.s. Via Brian Leiter.  Super clear and convincing.


ianbargain said...

To be fair to them, the conservative argument here is not based on economics but on notions of individual liberty. It is not unreasonable to balance one's economic beliefs with that of individual freedom. Of course, they are still hypocrites since they conveniently forget this when they lobby for laws about abortion.

Jean Kazez said...

Sure, but conservatives don't usually think people should have the liberty to have a service available to them without paying for. You can't insist on your liberty to not pay for the fire department, while also depending on it's existence, if you ever have a fire.

ianbargain said...

It might be possible to make a case. Many conservatives don't oppose the army, police, fire etc - ER can be treated as equivalent. Let us say somebody breaks into your house and threatens your safety, you get to call the police. But if you are homeless, you don't get to ask for a safe house. Same for emergency vs general palliative/preventative care.

Anyway, I'm just playing devil's advocate. I'm personally in favor of universal healthcare.