We are in the stupid season. I am convinced that the time leading up to an election makes us all collectively duller. It’s not one side or another. There’s not one political party or group that avoids this, though clearly my party is less stupid than yours. We all get stupid.
Yesterday was a stupid day. After the announcement of the supreme court ruling on the constitutionality of the health care act, Facebook became inhospitable to human life. I couldn’t look at it. All of these two sentence statuses, fully sure of the righteousness of their cause and the unholiness of the other side’s, filled the news feed. I have over 1,200 Facebook friends (don’t ask me how, that’s more people than I actually know), and so there was plenty of this nonsense from both sides.
I thought it might be safe to go back today. I have grown somewhat addicted to the approval I receive when someone thumbs-up my status. I feel so affirmed! Who knows, someone might tag me in a picture or a post. I can only stay away for so long.
But alas, it wasn’t safe. One of my friends posted that the logic of the health care law went something like this: that will be $2 for a pack of gum. No, thanks. In that case, you have to pay us a tax for not buying it.
It’s not like that at all. It’s nothing like that. Paying for health insurance is not at all like buying gum, or a car, or a house, or a dog, or a hi-def tv, or a guitar, or a snugly, or a blender, or a thigh master, or a pair of really nice shoes. It’s not like that at all.
Insurance, by it’s very nature, involves something that if worse came to worse we couldn’t afford at all. You don’t need my help at all to buy a pack of gum. But you do need my help if your child is born with a debilitating condition that requires a lifetime of expensive care or if you’re in a car accident that requires ten surgeries or if you develop cancer. You can’t afford that on your own. And that means that someone will need the $400 a month premiums I pay for health insurance even though I’m never sick. And that’s the deal we make with each other, because this week it might be you, and next week it might be me.
And it’s not like a pack of gum because you’re already in. You have no choice. If you’re lying bleeding on the side of the road unconscious after a car accident, respondents on the scene have no choice but to treat you. They don’t check to see first if you have insurance or a big enough bank account to pay for the treatment. They treat you. That’s the deal, and it’s a deal that I don’t think any of us think should be any different. We’ve decided already that health care is more than a commodity. We’ve decided already that it’s not like buying gum. Health insurance might be commerce, but we’ve decided that health care isn’t. And we’ve decided that when you’re lying unconscious on the side of the road, you can’t opt out.
So when you can’t pay for the care flight helicopter ride or the surgeries, or the time in ICU, or the follow-up months of rehab, someone will. And that someone is all of us who pay into the system. It’s not like buying a pack of gum at all. Not at all. You’ve already bought the gum because we all agree that if you’re bleeding on the side of the road someone should save your life. And when we agree to that, it would be nice to know that you’ve been paying into the system like everyone else.
It’s not like buying a pack of gum at all. Not at all. There might be a better health care bill out there. You might have a better idea of how to pay for this thing we are all invested in. There might be legitimate reasons to declare it constitutional or not. But it’s not like buying a pack of gum.
It’s stupid season. And I think I just got sucked in.