Dispelling US Health Care Myths: Part 1

Whenever the discussion of UHC and health care reform gets brought up, there is one very consistent statement made by the conservative side:

I think it’s time to get rid of this meme once and for all, so the following is a list of people whose health care you are already paying for. Within it, there are three assumptions: [1] You pay taxes, [2] You have health insurance, most likely employer based in a group plan, [3] you are not currently sick. If any one of those don’t apply to you please see the notes at the bottom.
Starting with your hard earned tax dollars, a sizable chunk of it already goes to the following groups:

  • Everyone in your military (about 1.5million active personnel, plus their families, and I assume civilian employees get health care along with their families)
  • Veterans (23.8 million from this source, don’t know if it covers families of veterans, VA also employs almost 280,000 people)
  • Federal employees (about 2.7million, and their families)
  • State employees (you’ll need to check your state)
  • Everyone on Medicare
  • Everyone on Medicaid
  • If you’ve bought a product or service (ie a tv or its installation) a portion of what you paid went towards the health care costs of that company’s employees.
  • The people served by USNS COMFORT and MERCY (wiki)
  • And the final weird one: I was as an event put on my Medtronic, a large medical device company, one of their VPs gave a 37min talk on the work they fund in third world countries like Canada and Africa. They are spending money on health care in other countries, that gets factoring into the cost of the product, which is passed on to you.

Now, if you own health insurance, in a typical employer based group plan, your premiums are subsidizing everyone else’s care in your group. That’s how the insurance system works. The insurance company has yearly expenditures of X, so to make profit your premiums are going to be (X+P)/n where n is the number of policy holders. Everyone in your group gets the same universal care, so that guy in the cube next to you, that just had open heart surgery for his whole family, still paid the same premium as you, even though he received thousands of dollars of care. What you don’t realize is that you are in a little mini UHC, and are paying for everyone else’s care.

Even if you have private insurance, the insurance company is going to make profit in the same way above, by charging you a high enough premium to cover the cost of everyone else’s care plus account for the risk you pose them.

Finally, even if you simply pay out of pocket, and got to this point thinking, “fuck you I don’t pay taxes or participate in a health plan,” you’re still on the hook. If you’ve ever been to a hospital or medical facility, part of your bill is subsidizing other people’s care. There first time I had the privilege of riding in an ambulance I tried to look up the cost. An article by the company (which I’ll try to find) mentioned that they only get about 50% recovery on bills (ie half of everyone that rides fails to pay). What does that mean for you? It means that your bill is covering those people. Same goes for hospitals, all the care they have to give for free is picked up by you in your bill. So people without insurance that skip out on all their ER visits pass their costs on to you. The same way shoplifting means products you buy are more expensive.

The conclusion here, is that you are currently paying for an enormous number of people, in the most complicated and expensive way possible, all the while getting none of the benefits for yourself. So you may not like socialism, and you can still hate UHC, just stop making that stupid comment.

[1] If you don’t currently pay taxes, you won’t be paying for other people’s care under tax-funded-UHC , so there isn’t any reason for you to make the comment in the first place. And if you’re not paying taxes, chances are everyone else is paying for your health care in one of the ways mentioned above.
[2] If you have no insurance, than under UHC you would GET insurance, paid for by someone else.
[3] If you are currently sick or receiving treatment for something, other people are paying for YOUR health care, so you should be a lot more grateful.

Not gonna happen, primarily because it’s an assumption, not a meme. You’re welcome to start with another assumption, but you don’t get to dismiss someone else’s assumption by calling it a “meme”.

We all form our political philosophies by starting with certain assumptions, either explicitly or implicitly. The idea that Health Care is not a right is a perfectly valid assumption for a political philosophy.

You’ve gone to the trouble of enumerating many health care payouts but it ignores the fundamental idea behind Bricker’s comment: a person who is sick is [not] entitled to demand that society pay for his care.

The quantity of existing arrangements between organizations and members that appear contrary to the above is irrelevant.

Internet access is not a “right” and yet 75% of Americans have internet access. How can that be possible? Because the % with access is irrelevant to whether it is an obligation provided by society.

Many organizations offer health benefits as a calculated cost-benefit to retaining employees (corporations) or members (military). You can’t retrofit that historical circumstance to a moral stance.

Okay, here is Rand Rover’s thread that I was looking for, outlying his hatred of paying for other people’s health care. When someone uses the “health care is not a right” statement I tend to read it as, “I don’t want to pay for your health care.” Otherwise, what’s the point of making that statement?

People have the right to not want to pay for things. It isn’t a myth, just a point of view you don’t agree with.

To quote Cecil Adams, when we are talking about the price of mangoes in Sumatra, I am not interested in having you drag in your opinions on the temperature of spit in Wichita. First: it’s not a “meme.” Second: it does not rebut the proposition that there is not a “right” to health care to list a large number of people who already get health care costs paid by the public. It merely means that the policy is being applied wrongly at present. Third: many of your assumptions are distinguishable from my objections. Military, military veterans, other federal employees and retirees, and certain dependents thereof earn the benefit as part of their employment compensation, for instance; my objection goes to those who claim it as a right without earning it.

The “complicated and expensive” part notwithstanding, I don’t think I benefit much from paying for other people’s healthcare under UHC any more than I do now.


Emack, Please, please do not leave out the enormous cost of free medical care for every prisoner, not even a deductible to pay either, and never a judgment against him when he leaves prison. I have never understood this. I have been told some damn court ordered care be given “to the community standard”. Problem is that standard is to not get care without either payment, or a judgment against you to make you pay later. It certainly includes a co-pay and deductible too, yet we give these scum everything free and wonder what we could cut out to save money?

I think arguing we ought give victims of crime the free care instead might make more people support a national plan, but even you failed to mention the free care for the offenders while there is no free care for victims. Just like you, seems many do not think about this. Be sure not to forget this group and then that victims get no free care. It would help win reform I think.

I agree with your point, I always tell people who say they are against reform when do they want to stop medicare and the veteran hospitals, and they usually begin to think a little at that point. Then I point out no nation that has such care as we want ever wants to end it, and sure not to go to our system.

I believe the entire purpose of “society” is to care for those who are in need. There is no justification for anyone in need of medical help not to have access to it, none what so ever.

When you buy a car, the car dealer would like you to start negotiations from the manufacturer’s suggested retain price and bargain down. You (presumably) should instead start from the dealer’s actual cost and negotiate upwards.

How is this relevant to what you ask?

If we begin with the proposition that I have often heard proponents of UHC make (“Basic health care is a human right”) and bargain down from that, we end up conceding a great deal of ground as far as society’s obligations to the individual. If, on the other hand, we correctly (in my opinion) begin with the proposition that it is NOT a right, we can certainly discuss the wisdom of certain exceptions that make sense for all concerned, such as vaccinations or emergency care, without being swept away by a …er… sweeping mandate.

I believe you’re wrong. There is no justification to force members of society to pay for things that are properly an individual’s responsibility. None whatsoever.

I’m in need of getting laid. What’s your sister up to?

Sure people have that right, and when they say it, I have the right to tell them they’re stupid BECAUSE THEY’RE ALREADY PAYING FOR IT.

I hear this stupid statement dragged out into every health care thread, and hourly on Fox News.

“I’m against UHC because I don’t want to pay for other people’s health care. It’s not a right, they’re not entitled to it. If they wanted health care they can earn it.”

Well, turns out, you are already paying for it. And paying for millions of other people’s health care, both earned or otherwise. That statement implies that you are not currently paying for people’s health care, which is wrong.

And yes, I completely forgot about prisoners! How’s that for earning your health care!

The second statement follows from the first. He doesn’t want to pay for it because it isn’t a right. You have the right to a a speedy trial, which I am happy to pay for because it is a right.

n.b.: Not speaking for RR here, as I often disagree with his politics. But I think my reply is pertinent.

If you’re having that much trouble, I’ll gladly chip in $5 towards solving your problem.

So what? People can’t object to current laws or policies? Anti-war folks can’t object to the US paying billions for weapons?

No it doesn’t. It implies that they don’t like paying for other people’s healthcare. Probably even the current amount they are paying.

My usual rule of thumb is that once a thread has reached the point of argument by capitalization, it is destined for lockdown or movement to the Pit, but hope springs eternal.

It seems the principle being argued is that once I am compelled to pay for something, I lose the right to object if I am required to pay for more of it. Is this a general principle, or does it apply only to healthcare?


Because you misunderstand. Even if I’m already paying, that doesn’t mean I SHOULD be paying, and even if I should in some circumstances, I am not doing it as a matter of “right” on the part of the recipients, but as a matter of practicality.

I have the right to cash my paycheck in fifties and hundreds and walk through Hunt’s Point at 2 AM. And the mere fact that I will be routinely mugged and all my cash taken every time I do it doesn’t erase that right.

But it doesn’t matter at all if it’s a right or not. You are still paying for people’s health care under the current non-right system. The whole “health care is not a right” is just a big red herring.

So to summarize: Currently health care is NOT a right, and you are paying for people’s health care, lots of people, including criminals, and you spend more than any other country.

Under UHC, health care might be a right, and you will continue to pay for other people’s health care, just as you do now.

Very little changes on the “paying for other people’s health care” part of the equation.

So my point is to get rid of that statement from the discussion.

It’s fine to discuss quality and quantity of care, even the stupidity of rationing and death panels. But it’s time to drop this nothing of “paying for other people’s health care,” and trying to rationalize it with the word “rights.”

Do you understand what is meant by the phrase millions for defense but not one cent for tribute?