Saturday, February 7, 2015

How about ObamaCare’s Victims?

ObamaCare subsidies are currently being challenged before the Supreme Court.

That was the object of David Tedrow’s column in the Washington Post, Without ObamaCare, I Would Have Died. Tedrow opened with “The Obamacare subsidies saved my life. Now, I’m scared the Supreme Court is going to gut them.”

Tedrow explains how his life was turned upside down from a life-threatening illness that eventually would require a liver transplant. He explains that his existing private insurance policy, though expensive, was covering his treatment.

But then, his insurer ended his policy (Tedrow gives no reason). He then signed up for insurance under ObamaCare, at a small fraction of the cost of his prior policy. “I now pay just $126 a month for insurance,” Tedrow writes, “a federal government subsidy covers the rest.” Tedrow wound up getting his transplant, plus all related medication, and he is on the mend. Tedrow concludes:

Because of my insurance, I’m able to contemplate my future. And I’m really frightened that the Supreme Court might cut the subsidy for me and so many others. For me, the subsidy is the difference between life and death.

I left these comments:

Sorry for your illness, and glad for your recovery. But that doesn’t justify ObamaCare. It highlights its flaws. Your prior policy was canceled most likely because ObamaCare made it illegal, as has happened to millions of other Americans.

Health insurance is inordinately expensive because of government policies like benefit mandates, which ObamaCare doubled down on. Health insurance would be a lot more affordable if consumers and insurers were free to negotiate policies that fit consumers’ needs and budgets rather than government dictates.

The ObamaCare subsidies you so glibly brag about are paid for by forcing privations on other ratepayers, and on taxpayers. My daughter, a divorced single mom raising two daughters, has just seen her premiums rise by hundreds of dollars. The personal costs your subsidies enable you to avoid are paid for with blood money.

Being on the dole at the price of forced privations on others is not an honorable position. In the end, our healthcare is our individual, not collective, moral responsibility. Rather than brag about being on the dole, you should demand an end to the myriad government policies—both post- and pre-ObamaCare—that made our health insurance such a mess,and the subsidies “necessary,” in the first place.

Welfare Statists always trumpet the beneficiaries of their programs, as if the ends justify the means. ObamaCare is no exception. But the ends don’t automatically justify the means. The first step in justifying any end to be achieved is to morally justify the means. If the means are immoral, the ends can not be justified, no matter how desirable. Opponents of the regulatory welfare state must always be willing to point this out, no matter how much some beneficiary tugs at the heartstrings.

Granted, it’s not easy to challenge someone like Tedrow. His encounter with a life-threatening illness should draw the empathy of any compassionate person. And Tedrow is not your typical parasite. He was productive and self-reliant before his illness, which left him unable to work.

Of course, as with other welfare state programs, ObamaCare subsidies would probably have to be phased out, now that they have become entrenched and many people have become dependent on them. But ended they must be—along with all other government interference in the health insurance market—giving people like Tedrow an appropriate amount of “breathing room” time wise while a free market is established and rates have come down to affordable levels.

Of course, voluntary charitable help is perfectly moral—though not morally obligatory—should people choose to offer it. But, if we who advocate liberty can’t expose the immoral truth about welfare statism even in the face of sympathetic cases like Tedrow’s, then we have no business calling ourselves advocates of liberty.

Related Reading:

The Only Obamacare Fix Is For Obama To Legalize Real Health Insurance—Paul Hsieh

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