Really? Let ’em die?

Should individuals be required to carry adequate health insurance at their own expense, or, if they are unable, with the assistance of government subsidies?

Opponents of a health insurance mandate say such a requirement infringes on their individual liberty by forcing them to purchase something against their will. Proponents say the absence of such a mandate infringes on their individual liberty by forcing them to pay for the healthcare of the uninsured when they present themselves for expensive care with junk coverage or no coverage at all.

Proponents further explain that a mandate to acquire health insurance protects taxpayers and insured people from being forced to pay for increased insurance premiums of their own to cover emergency and catastrophic costs of the uninsured and inadequately insured. They say it is as irresponsible for those who can swing it not to have health insurance as it is for someone who drives not to have collision insurance. Irresponsibility is not an inalienable right.

Over breakfast with some friends the other day, we got into discussing the issue. One of my buddies said he agreed with both arguments. Individuals should not be forced to buy health insurance against their will. Therefore the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. In addition, he went on, taxpayers, the insured and healthcare providers should not be mandated to pick up the costs of treatment for the uninsured under any condition against their will.

Such a mandate effectively creates a category of healthcare welfare queens scrounging off of others when they can’t pay their own healthcare bills. Therefore, my friend also called for the repeal of the mandate in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986 requiring hospitals to accept and treat patients with an emergency on the backs of those who buy insurance.

One of my other friends asked the obvious question: “And what are you going to do with the people in need of emergency care who do not have insurance?”

His response: “When they’re healthy, they don’t want to help folks who are sick. So when they get sick, why should anyone be forced to pay their medical bills Let em die,”

Another friend jumped in: “Let ’em die? Come on, you’re not being serious, are you?” He did not respond. He just gave an ever-so-faint and mischievous smile and took a sip of his coffee. I think he was kidding. ..but I can’t be sure.

Tim Mannello


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