David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post that President Obama should try to shift the health care argument to what Ignatius calls the high ground: morality. He says that what is lacking is the sense that Congress must act because health care for all is a matter of social justice, “required by our moral conscience.”
Implicit in Ignatius’s position is that a significant portion of Americans is unable to get health insurance today. That is simply not true.
The number of people without health insurance is said to be 45.7 million. But a little fact-checking of the kind we know Ignatius to be capable of reveals that many of those uninsured have chosen not to be insured. Ten million of those 45.7 million have incomes of $75,000 or more. Eight million have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.
Suddenly, Ignatius’s concerns seem less altruistic. Now we begin to understand why penalties are necessary to achieve full coverage. Those 18 million people tend to be young and healthy and least in need of medical care, which is why Ignatius would have them follow orders to buy health insurance. His morality hath taken on a strange hue.
The Census Bureau also reports that about ten million of the uninsured are not U.S. citizens. Raising the question, how far must our morality extend? Must we cover everyone… including the bankrupt Greeks?
Fourteen million of the 45.7 million uninsured are poor and low-income people who are eligible for already existing government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP), but fail to enroll in them.
So who’s left? About eight million people, who can’t get health insurance (the arithmetic is a bit fuzzy because there’s overlap in the categories.)
So: in order to provide health insurance to less than 3 percent of the population we must mount a moral crusade to change the entire American health system?
That’s not morality. That’s madness. But madness is a medical term.
The political term is socialism. And if the 20th century taught us anything, it was that there is nothing moral about socialism.