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The purpose of health insurance used to be to enjoy a higher level of healthcare by extending your own ability to pay for health care. You would pay for your own office visits and routine, minor checkups, but unless you were rich, you paid for insurance to share the costs for something big like an organ transplant or a devastating accident. Getting insurance was a personal choice, not a legal obligation; you got whatever insurance you felt you needed or could afford, and your healthcare was whatever you felt you needed or could afford. The safety net for the poorest people was the federal requirement that emergency health care in Emergency Rooms was paid for by the hospitals, which were in turn subsidized by the federal government for these costs.

Years ago I had cancer, and even with insurance the bills were enormous, but before I agreed to the treatment, I had talked to my surgeon, the radiology department, the hospital, lab and the radiation treatment facility to determine and limit my out-of-pocket costs. They had adjusted my bills and worked with me to set up payment plans that I could pay. In other words, I only received the level of healthcare that I could afford. Had I not been able to afford that level of healthcare, I would have refused the post-op radiation treatments or eliminated followup x-rays and lab tests. If I had faced a lifesaving organ transplant THAT I COULD NOT AFFORD, I would have turned it down flat rather than bankrupt my family.

Everyone has seen those money jugs in stores and restaurants, placed by families with bankrupting levels of medical bills. They are heartbreaking, but rather than lovingly let their loved one pass away, they go around begging and may still declare bankruptcy — which means they received healthcare they couldn’t afford and didn’t have to pay for it. Don’t the healthcare providers have a right to be paid for their work? That cost for the deadbeats is passed on to the rest of us.

In a free country, you don’t have a “right” to the highest level of healthcare regardless of cost; you only have the right to access the level of healthcare you can afford. The rest of us (“the government”) are NOT obligated to give you any damned thing you need for any reason at any price. That isn’t the constitutional role of government.

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