National Security: What Is Healthcare?Mar 13th, 2012 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
By Joe Boyles
Last month, the Obama Administration announced under the auspices of the new healthcare law that all insurance policies must offer women’s contraceptive services including the abortifacient RU-486 (morning after pill). This touched off a firestorm of controversy with many religious orders because Obama reversed himself on promises to honor the “conscience clause” afforded religious liberty. At the forefront of this controversy is the Roman Catholic Church which violently objects to being forced to cover services at their many schools and hospitals which are contrary to their doctrine.
When liberal Democrats who back the president’s pronouncement tried to present a view supporting their position, they invited a Georgetown Law student named Sandra Fluke to give her opinion. Then radio host Rush Limbaugh weighed in, using some ill-advised adjectives to describe Ms. Fluke which he has since apologized for.
Liberals have painted this brouhaha as an issue of women’s rights. In the process, they have (intentionally) obscured two very real issues: is this a violation of religious liberty captured in the First Amendment to the Constitution; and should services like these be mandated in any healthcare law?
Putting the first objection aside for now, let me tackle the second question under the rubric “what is healthcare?” You see, if we don’t define our terms, then nearly anything can be called healthcare. If we don’t set a specific definition, then I promise you that the pledges made by vote-hungry politicians will break the bank, sooner rather than later. We simply cannot afford all they will promise.
Let me use a personal example. I’m recovering from prostate surgery two weeks ago (nothing serious folks). I’ve been under the care of my urologist for five years. In January, he informed me that we needed to correct my problem with surgery because medication wouldn’t do the job. My insurance company quickly agreed and authorized the surgery.
But if I went to a plastic surgeon and said that I needed my double-chin removed and thinning hairline re-rooted to improve my self-esteem, I would not be surprised at all if they declined to cover the procedures. In the first case, there is a medical necessity that was increasingly becoming a problem to my health. In the second case, the problem would be in my head and the evidence that it would make any meaningful difference is shaky. It is the difference between health related and elective surgery.
There is nothing wrong (yet) with me or you paying directly for elective surgery. But if lawmakers require insurance to cover this, then it will skyrocket the cost to all of us to cover the few who actually will have this surgery.
Here’s another thing I think about healthcare: before I depend on my doctor, my insurance company, or the federal government, I need to take personal responsibility for my own healthcare. That means five things. First, I’m responsible for what and how much I eat. Second, I need to watch for health sign indicators for things like blood pressure and see a specialist if I detect a problem. Third, I need to exercise sufficiently to keep in good shape. Fourth, I need sufficient emotional health to keep my mind and spirit in unison. And last, I need to avoid self-destructive things to my health like alcoholism, smoking, narcotics, etc.
These things are my job. I cannot lay off this responsibility on another. If I’m overweight and out of shape, it’s my fault, not someone else’s. I’m responsible; only I can correct it. Genes and culture may be working against me. If so, it simply means that I have to work harder. Life isn’t always fair.
I’m inclined to think that contraceptive services are a matter for personal responsibility, not the governments. Before leaving the subject of Ms. Fluke, she argued in a law paper that health insurance should also cover sex-change operations, now called gender reassignment in modern language. Now I ask you in a direct appeal to your common sense, does a sex-change operation sound like a medical necessity that should be covered under health insurance? I hope your answer is no.
We need to narrowly define what is included in healthcare coverage and what is not. So much mandated coverage has been added to these policies by vote-crazed lawmakers that they have driven up the cost incredibly. It is virtually impossible to buy a low cost, high-deductible, catastrophic coverage insurance policy because of so much meddling by lawmakers and lobbyists. They have larded up the insurance requirements so much that the cost of these policies has skyrocketed.
The conservative answer to healthcare is to (really) drive down the cost to make coverage more affordable for more people. This is what the president said he was going to do, not what he actually did.
Debt update: the federal deficit for February added a record $229 billion to the debt.