Not Your Hypothetical

Before we delve too far into today’s topic, please first take a few minutes and view this video of GOP candidate Ron Paul’s response to a question from Wolf Blitzer during one of the recent GOP debates. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

OK, good, you’re back now. So, to business. First things first, Ron Paul actually answered the question as it was asked. If a healthy young man making a good salary decides to forgo insurance, should the government be responsible for his health care if he becomes severely injured or disabled?  Paul answered, as one might expect, that the government should not be responsible. If the young man made that choice, it is his responsibility to live with the consequences.

The problem actually was that Blitzer softballed the question. Perhaps a more accurate hypothetical might be to ask about a woman in her mid-40s who relies on medication to keep her chronic pain under control. Without insurance, the medication will cost $220 a month. The cheaper generic substitute no longer works.

If this woman cannot get her pain medication, she will end up in such excruciating pain that she would be unable to work, and thus would end up on disability.

So then, Dr. Paul, which costs less — providing health care coverage for this person or providing disability wages for the rest of their life? Should this person be “responsible” for a health condition that was never really their choice? Do they get the “suck it up, Cupcake” motivational speech, as was given to the hypothetical young man? Should their pain and suffering — over which they have little to no control — be something to cheer about?

That’s the question Blitzer should have posed. A question that more accurately reflects the reality for those of us with chronic pain.

Sadly, I suspect Paul would retort that such a case couldn’t have any basis in reality. Nobody here in this great land of ours is actually faced with such terrible choices!

And here’s where Paul (and his supporters) get it wrong. That woman? That’s me. Not some hypothetical. Those are the choices I have laid out before me.

The audience members who cheered were not cheering for some hypothetical person to be in terrible pain. They were cheering for ME to be in pain. They were cheering for anybody with chronic pain to suffer.

Maybe I am taking this too personally. It may well just be nothing more than bread and circuses. But if I am not going to be your teachable moment, I sure as hell won’t be your hypothetical.

(and a thanks to the fab ChronicBabe, for letting me guestblog for her with this. Please, go check out her site as well!)

This entry was posted in chronic pain, not your teachable moment. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Not Your Hypothetical

  1. Good stuff. Blitzer also missed the chance to propose a hypothetical that’s about public health–so that healthy 30-year-old guy who doesn’t have insurance gets a contagious disease–let’s say, tuberculosis. He can’t afford the medication regimen without insurance, so he doesn’t get treated. But then he’s not the only one who pays the consequences for that decision, is he? That’s another place where the “personal responsibility” argument against decent healthcare falls down hard for me. We don’t live in bubbles. I need that guy–who could be my neighbor, my waiter, the cashier who hands me my change, or the passenger next to me on the bus–to have good access to healthcare. His access to care protects my health, and my kids’ health, and so on and so on.

  2. The problem is in ignoring the government’s effect on the price of that medication. Several problems exist that are not the result of the “free market”.

    1. The government only provides incentives and tax breaks if somebody uses FDA approved medication. In essence this alone drives up the price since it limits competitive market forces.

    2. Government “insurance” negotiates the price in advance and there is no negotiating on the part of the individual. Again, this limits market forces and keeps the price high.

    3. The FDA puts certain non-patented drugs on its list of “illegal” drugs, drugs which can be far more effective than some of today’s legal pain drugs and with far fewer side-effects. Again, this distorts the market (and puts a lot of innocent people in jail to boot).

  3. EMoon says:

    Ron Paul lies in so many ways. How is it “taking responsibility” to assume that the churches are going to pay for medical care? Or that neighbors are? Either way the money comes out of the pockets of the 99%, whether it’s charity or taxes. Moreover, in the days of more “charity” hospitals, many people had no access to them. I grew up 250 miles away from the hospital Ron Paul brags about. There were no church-supported, “don’t turn anyone away” hospitals where I lived.

    As for medical costs being higher because of government medical programs–poppycock. My mother trained as a nurse in the same hospital Ron Paul worked in–Santa Rose in San Antonio. The church could afford to give some people free medical care because most of the staff (nuns and nursing students) weren’t paid. (They got small, hot rooms and meager food. They were always hungry, my mother said, and always tired, because they worked 12 hour shifts in addition to classwork. Yeah, if your nurses are underpaid, the cost of medical care is less. Medical care costs soared with the introduction of for-profit insurance companies and the introduction of expensive new treatments. Both are involved. Church-run hospitals went broke and now are much less charitable.

    I worked in a rural medical office and volunteered with a rural EMS back in my thirties. If people are to get the care they need, someone has to pay for it. The utility companies don’t cut the rate for electricity & gas because an office doesn’t get paid. Neither do medical supply companies. Nor will they take the cake an old lady bakes because she can’t pay her bill as part of the clinic’s payment for electricity or an autoclave or sterile gloves, bandages, plaster for casts, etc. Ambulances run on gasoline, not “faith”. (Ours used gas from the county pumps–in other words, taxpayers paid for the gas, both through county property taxes and through charges for ambulance use.) The rural area I live in had plenty of hard-working people–farmers, ranchers, etc–who were barely scraping by as it was–how the !**! could they be expected to pony up for every medical emergency in that end of the county?

    I expect stupid soft-ball questions from moderators at these things…the guys asking the questions aren’t living the life that lets you know the hard-ball questions. Healthy 30 yo who “decides” not to have health insurance is one thing. But how many people can afford it? Especially those who’ve lost their jobs in the past ten years. How the blankety can you demand that people “take responsibility” for their medical expenses when there aren’t any jobs for them to earn money with, and thus no money for food, let along health insurance?

    As for the audiences in these GOP debates, who are always cheering on the idea that someone should be allowed to die, or suffer, or whatever…I will bet you that when it’s their kid, or themselves, they aren’t half so tough. I wish it were possible make them carry a tag from now on that says “I am totally responsible for all my own expenses and I refuse any taxpayer funded assistance.” Of course they won’t be able to drive home on taxpayer provided roads, or ride in any public transportation that receives tax money, and the fire and police departments will ignore their calls for help, and their kids can’t go to public school…but they made that bed…let them find out what “You make your bed, lie in it” really means.

  4. Miche says:

    I live in a country with socialised medicine and am in exactly the situation you posted about. It costs the government about $230 per month for medication that makes me able to hold down a job, pay taxes and all that good stuff. If I couldn’t get that medication (which costs me $19 per month out of pocket), I’d be on the Sickness Benefit, which is like SSDI. That costs WAY more than $230 per month.

    I don’t get why this is so difficult to understand.

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