Thursday, July 26, 2012

On the Colorado tragedy, medical bills and health insurance

Our hearts of course go out to the victims of last week's horrific shooting spree, and we wish the survivors a quick and full recovery. But some folks have already decided to politicize the attack, noting that "[s]ome of the victims ... may face another challenge when they get out of the hospital: enormous medical bills without the benefit of health insurance."

The article then goes on to speculate, with zero evidence, that even though there's "no exact count of how many of them don't have insurance ... statistics suggest many of them might not be covered."

Let's leave aside for the moment that such speculation is what got Brian Ross in hot water in the first place, and grant that some (many?) of those at the theater were uninsured.

How come no one's asking "why?" It appears that most of those in attendance were young (teens, twenties and thirties), hardly a high-risk (and thus high premium) demographic. And remember, under the new health care law, those 26 and younger COULD have been on their parents' plans. That they chose to be uninsured is on them. Heck, the wife of one victim is pregnant – without insurance. How were they going to pay for that? HOW they ended up in the hospital has NOTHING to do with the fact that they CHOSE to be uninsured.

Some years ago, we discussed the sad case of "Amanda," another young person who chose not to buy insurance. She ran up almost $2 million in bills for cancer treatment. She didn't expect to get cancer any more than the folks in the theater expected to be shot.

The good news for the Colorado victims is that at least some of their bills will be waived, and their fellow citizens (and Warner Brothers) have generously contributed funds to help pay for their care. But using their plight to score political points is an insult to folks who do play by the rules and accept personal responsibility.
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