And my thanks in turn to you and the others, +Jakke Mäkelä
, for making being the only guy on this side of the fence a much less unpleasant experience than it typically is! This is one of the best conversations I've had on Google+, and most timely, as I've been doubting what good comes from my participation here. [Usually it's just me being yelled at for being a religious apologist, or an atheist, or too poor, or too rich.]+Martijn Vos
And here we come again to the reasons for our differences [beyond the cultural ones, of course]: profoundly different life experiences. You can't repair your own car, and live pretty comfortably: I haven't taken any car of mine to a mechanic in a decade or more, and don't own a bed,* television, dishwasher, or microwave. Our lives differ profoundly! That's one reason I strongly favor individual choices,
because individuals have very different needs and wants.
There's another point hidden here, as well: like the car metaphor, in which you can't fix your own car so it doesn't bother you when the government mandates something that's not user-fixable, not having health coverage makes me more self-reliant, and much more careful about my health.** My experience is that in Nederland, this isn't much of an issue - "Broke your leg? Take a vitamin and go for a walk." - but here in the US, it's a major, major one. Most people here don't change their own oil, because they can afford to pay someone to do it for them, so when something worse breaks, they're completely at the mercy of the mechanic. Most people here are completely incapable of even basic medical treatment on their own - seriously, I do know people who take their kids to the ER for sniffles - and show a profound lack of ability to manage their own health. [Two thirds of our population is overweight or obese!] So while perhaps it's not a big issue in Nederland - although I though a fair number of the people I met were ponces by my admittedly bizarre standards ;) - it's a crippling one here, sadly.
In many cases, I agree health coverage is a poverty issue. It's not in mine - I used to make twice what I do now, and still didn't carry health insurance - but in many cases, it is. But I view poverty as an issue of personal responsibility, too: if I'd like to be not-poor, there are mechanisms to do that of which I'm not availing myself. Very few people, in my experience, are as poor as they are for purely external reasons: poverty - please, no one throw shoes - is also very often a choice. And I say that standing at the bottom of a very deep hole, not as someone holding the shovel that buries me.
Again, you come from a culture of plenty, with a very high population density; I come from a personal history of scarcity, and live where there are as few people as possible. So we have different needs and wants. How to reconcile them? I genuinely do think there's a place for allowing you to be covered, and allowing me to be not-covered: your primary objection to that is what we do if I get hurt, then. My answer has always been, "Uh, don't treat me," but I understand that's a difficult row to hoe for many people.
What about an alternative, then: if a patient comes in, we treat them, even if they don't have insurance [or if they're unconscious and can't show it!]. Then, we bill them. If they don't pay, the process goes on the way it would if I didn't pay any other bill: collections, eventually civil action and docking of pay, etc. Does this address the primary objections? Individuals are free to choose whether or not they're covered by insurance. In the event of catastrophic injury or illness, the individual who isn't covered still has to pay, but doesn't get denied treatment. What objections would you have to a system like this?
*Yes, before we go down that road, my daughter does own a very nice bed, because she chooses to have one. She chooses to have a microwave, too, but a brother's got to draw the line somewhere. ;) She's welcome to waste her own
money on useless objects like that.
**I'm a little weirded out, frankly, by people who can't take care of themselves, who can't fix their own cars, who can't repair their computers, who can't bind their own wounds. It seems like terrifying weakness, to me, so be so reliant on other people for the very most basic needs. We grow much of our own food, do all of our own home, auto, and computer repair, and, yeah, our own first aid. I haven't had to give myself stitches yet, or set a broken bone, but we've everything we need if it comes to that. Okay, if I broke a bone, I'd probably pay someone else to fix it, but it's important to me to be able
to do it, regardless.