Monday, October 15, 2007
Other people are confusing
Continuing our series of "failing to understand other viewpoints," Chron editorial writer Caille Miller writes a piece which seems to be a bit questionable.
The punchline is that health care isn't a consumer good, and shouldn't be described with consumer language. (consumer choice, etc.) Why?
If this still doesn't sound foolish to you, consider this: How many "choices" do you really want when you're sick? How "free" does the thought of illness make you feel? Would it make you feel like you're "in the driver's seat" to have the "choice" to reject certain "options" because they cost more than you could afford?It's much better if the government rejects certain options because they cost more than it can afford.
Illness does not "empower" people to make "choices." It does not result in the desire to "negotiate" your health care "options." The only thing the average ill human being wishes to "negotiate" is how quickly her treatment can begin.In the parallel universe which Miller inhabits, where there is only one treatment option for every ailment which has no drawbacks at all, and living with illness is not a choice, this might make sense. But even though I've never been seriously ill, I'm aware of the reality that sometimes, treatment options are just that: options. Treatments often have costs that go beyond dollars. Some people may want to live with the illness rather than deal with the consequences of treatment. Some options may be less effective but more livable. Even in the realm of dollars, decisions as to what a person can afford may be best left to an individual, who may be willing to make monetary sacrifices that the government as a whole cannot do. There is not some single "happiness scale" where everyone values exactly the same things in life.
So no, I guess I don't really see how health care is all that different from a consumer good.
Unfortunately, the desire to have an illness cured is not the same as the desire to have cupholders and leather upholstery in the latest model of your Toyota, or the desire to watch a football game on a larger screen. The first has everything to do with being able to continue the quest for personal freedom, and the last two have everything to do with distracting yourself from the difficulty of achieving personal freedom with toys and trinkets.What a pathetic, useless personal freedom it is, then, if you aren't allowed to use it to value petty, trivial distractions which make you happy. Is it just not okay to use that freedom to make your life better?
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