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Another Look At Our Looming Healthcare Challenge

BY MICHAEL REISIG –

One of my favorite people, Thomas Sowell, wrote a book called the “The Quest For Cosmic Justice,” in which he explained that life is not designed to be continuously fair. Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. Secondly, there is no way to actually establish “fair and equitable” in any society, because every time you give something to one portion of a society, you have taken something from another. In essence, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is the perfect example of this.

Much of the liberal mindset in this country is about trying to repair the unfairness in life and amend this “Cosmic Justice,” after which everyone lives happily ever after. While admirable, it’s just not real life, because in real life there is yin and yang, and somebody always pays.

The following is taken from an excellent article by Forbes contributor Jeffrey Dorfman, which explains cosmic justice and the Affordable Care Act:

“Health care is very expensive in the U.S. today, so the cosmic injustice of bad health can easily lead to the further injustice of financial hardship. If one does not have health insurance, medical bills can be overwhelming in case of a serious illness. Even a sick person with health insurance, once burdened with a pre-existing condition, used to face the likelihood of higher insurance premiums in the future. A central feature of Obamacare ended the practice of higher premiums for these unlucky people expressly to correct the cosmic injustice of charging people more for health care just because they happen to need more expensive health care.

The Affordable Care Act is not nearly so much an attempt to lower the costs of health care in the U.S. as it is an attempt to correct cosmic injustices. Relatively little, if anything, in the law will lower costs. Rather, the law is more about extending coverage to more people and spreading the costs out differently so that sick people do not have to pay much more than healthy people.

To correct the perceived injustices of lower income people being unable to afford health insurance and of sicker people being charged higher premiums and denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, the Affordable Care Act must create new injustices. These new inequities fall on three groups.

First, the government will try to force young, healthy people to buy insurance through the individual mandate requiring everyone either to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Insurance companies can earn a profit by adding these new people with low average medical costs to the pool of insured people. Those profits will be used to offset the losses the insurance companies are being forced to absorb on the sicker people who can no longer be charged higher prices or denied coverage. Given that the young health people did nothing wrong, making them pay for the cosmic injustice visited upon the sick is really just trading one cosmic injustice for another.

Second, subsidies will be offered by the government to lower income people who cannot afford health insurance on their own and are not offered it with a job. Taxpayers will actually pay for these subsidies, similarly transferring injustice from one group to another. Taxpayers did nothing wrong to deserve higher taxes, yet must pay a cost to correct an injustice they did not create.

Finally, for insurance companies to charge everyone roughly the same price, those people whose expected medical costs are less than average will be paying an unfairly high insurance premium. Again, correcting one cosmic injustice simply creates a new one in the form of undeserved costs borne by healthier people.

Cosmic justice is not something that people or government can achieve. For example, because the government cannot perfectly distinguish between people whose illnesses were caused by voluntary behavior and those who did nothing to deserve their fate, all the efforts to correct the cosmic injustice done to some will also deliver benefits to those whose fate is not so unjust. These people are essentially getting unfairly lucky. Meanwhile, other people who did nothing wrong except to be young, healthy, or earn higher wages, pay the cost of correcting cosmic injustices they had no role in causing.

In an attempt to correct cosmic injustices the government is forced to inflict the costs upon innocent parties who did not cause the original injustice. Rather than trying to convince people to pay the price as a step toward a compassionate society, Obamacare hides these costs through all its complexity, rules, regulations, and mandates.

Cosmic injustice cannot be eliminated, only redistributed. Trying to hide the redistribution does not make it disappear.

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.