Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Health insurance - a commodity

The other day someone on television said that all these elderly well-to-do citizens receiving Medicair are so much better off than the youngsters who are often uninsured. The young folks complained that it was unfair that they had to pay into the system but didn't receive anything in return. Of course it's true that, the way the system is set up, old folks benefit. It seemed to them a system in which rich are taking from the poor. If there were a universal, even better, a single-payer health care system, this problem would not exist.

The concept that health care is a commodity, at the moment there is even a discussion about whether it wouldn't be fairer to tax it, is one that seems to have taken hold. It's as if health, i.e. well-being, can be purchased. It is presumed that the more a person pays for his or her well-being the healthier the person will be. It does not take into account that wealthy people are not necessarily more healthy. Health often is a matter of luck. It may be a matter of better health provision. But it is not something you can purchase like buying an expensive fur coat. Many of the Medicair recipient are wealthy. They paid into a system that promised them health security that they knew they could never buy late in life, no matter how solvent they are now. The reason for a any insurance is not whether you can later cash in on it. It is so you can rest assured that you or your loved ones do not put you in the poor house when disaster strikes. The money spent when you are ill does not go to the sufferer. It goes to doctors, nurses, hospitals, pharmaceuticals etc.


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