Row Potentially Brewing Over Health Insurance in the US

September 19th, 2011
Row Potentially Brewing Over Health Insurance in the US

In the run up to next year’s United States presidential elections another row could be brewing over health insurance provision. This row could go far beyond the current arguments of why the federal government should help fund insurance provision for those least able to afford it.

It seems during a series of debates over health care among Republican Party hopefuls for their party’s nomination as presidential candidate, the moderator on the televised programme posed a question. Wolf Blitzer asked: “If a seriously ill young man who had decided on his own to forgo health insurance suddenly needs expensive hospital care, should the state pay for it?”

Well known Republican Ron Paul, a former medical doctor himself, said the individual had the right to choose not to have insurance. Unfortunately for Mr. Paul the conversation became something of a battering with the politician effectively being accused of allowing the hypothetical individual to die if that was his choice. In short, the State should not pay for treatment.

He told Wolf Blitzer: “That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody —.”

The conversation continued thus:

“But congressman,” Wolf Blitzer asked. “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

It seems two audience members pre-empted Mr. Paul’s response by shouting yes.

Apparently this exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Ron Paul has its roots in a story about Ron Paul’s former campaign manager who died just 2 weeks after the Senator pulled out of the 2008 presidential race. Kent Snyder died from pneumonia aged 49. He had no health insurance, while the bills cost his family around $400,000.

What’s more, Kent Snyder was not able to get cover despite wanting it, as he had a pre-existing condition that the insurance companies would not insure.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, he promised to ensure that insurance companies could not deny anyone with a pre-existing condition from obtaining relevant insurance cover. This and other measures have since been a source for contention between the Republican and the Democratic parties.

The arguments look to continue as next year’s presidential elections take place.

 

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