I think our government mismanaged medical system is a lemon. I have thought so since the 1970s. I do not agree with it in principle or in fact. I remember years ago listening to a man giving a presentation on the glories of OHIP. He actually traveled the world promoting it to other governments. It was part of his job. I was taking philosophy at the time and decided to use an argument given to me by my esteemed Aristotelian professor. I cannot present it in its completeness now but in a nutshell:
Food, shelter, and health care are basic human needs, this we all agree. And most of us would agree that it is an obligation of society to ensure that these basic needs are adequately provided for for all its members insofar as it is possible. (I would add: That no one goes without food or shelter through no fault of their own.) Now in the case of shelter I do not think any of us would want to see someone living on the street for lack of means to adequately house themselves. We would see it as a common obligation to ensure that such a person be given the opportunity to be properly housed, at least with basic accomodations. But I do not think any of us would hold that in order to be fair to this person all persons should be required to live in exactly the same type of basic accomodations as this person. Those who have greater means, or are willing to save and sacrifice more to buy themselves better accomodations, should be allowed to do so. The same holds true for food. While we would not want to see anyone starving and would consider it a common obligation to ensure the destitute are fed, we would not hold that all should eat only what the destitute eat. If someone has the means to eat more or better food than the destitute then most of us would consider it within his right to do so. So, while we should do our best to ensure all receive adequate food and shelter we would not hold that all should receive only adequate or the same food and shelter. Those who have greater means – or may simply be willing to save and sacrifice more for it – should not be denied opportunity to acquire better food or housing. Why not the same thing with medical care? We would not want to see anyone denied basic medical care. But does that mean everyone should be allowed only the same medical care? If someone has greater means, or is willing to save or sacrifice more in order to purchase for themselves better medical care, should they not be able to do so? Yet our current medical system (OHIP) does not permit this (except with things like dental treatment). Is it not just that a person can use what is his own for his own benefit?
… The presenter stared at me like a deer in the headlights. He gave no answer.
I get so tired of media personalities and people you meet talking about how many Americans are without medical insurance. I ask, does that mean they receive no medical care? Where are the news stories about the millions dying in the streets from lack of medical care? The poor receive medical care for free (courtesy of the taxpayer). It is the middle class who often suffer – carrying much of the burden of the poor and having to pay high insurance rates for themselves. Some choose not to be insured and either hope for the best health-wise, or save money for a rainy day. That is their choice. But a major problem with the American system is that when these uninsured middle class go to the hospital they are charged an exaggerated rate for their treatment (the “full rate”) while insurance companies and Medicare pay a much reduced rate for their clients to receive the same treatment. That is a serious flaw.
- Fr. Elijah