Who Fires Who? The Lie of ‘Free Market’ Health Insurance

January 20th, 2012 by Andy in Taxes, The Commons & The Social Contract

Paul Krugman brought something up in one of his recent blog postings which went directly to the very same point that I was thinking when I heard about Romney’s supposed campaign trail flub about liking to ‘fire’ people. I thought it was unfair to go after Romney on the rhetorical point about what so-called ‘consumer choice’ entails, when it seemed apparent to me what he was trying to mean (though using the word ‘fire’ does reveal its own contextual mindset. Another issue for another day).

It was the very subject which he was talking about when making the comment which was much more shocking, actually. Treating insurance and medical care like its some kind of brand of DVD player one is out shopping for, or is similar to quality of service at a restaurant that one shops around for, pretty much demonstrates how flagrantly out to lunch Romney is when it comes to understanding the scope of reality that ‘market economics’ actually entails in the real lives of those who aren’t billionaires.

Aaron Carroll has an excellent analysis of Mitt Romney’s faux pas on firing people. No, Romney didn’t actually say that he enjoys firing people - but what he really did say, that competition works in health care because you can fire your insurance company, was actually worse. Carroll:

The real issue, unfortunately, is that very, very few people have the luxury that Gov. Romney is endorsing. Let’s say that you are self-employed, and lucky enough to have found a company to provide you with health insurance. Then, let’s say you develop cancer. You suddenly find out that your insurance company stinks. So you fire them, right?

Of course not. You’re screwed. Now you have a pre-existing condition. There’s not an insurance company out there that wants to cover you. So you don’t fire them. You scream, and curse, and cry, but you’re stuck. Only healthy people have the luxury of picking and choosing.

Let’s also not forget that most people don’t find out that they’re not getting “good service” until they’re sick. Healthy people don’t make much use of their insurance, so they don’t know how bad it is. They only find out after they’re ill, and then it’s too late. It’s only fun to fire the insurance company if you’re sure you can go to another company to get what you need. Almost no one can.

Why, it’s as if Romney doesn’t understand his own health reform, which was in large part about ensuring not that you can fire your insurance company, but rather about ensuring that your insurance company can’t fire YOU.

And this is a bit subjective, but isn’t it awesome how Romney’s lack of empathy shines through? He evidently has no sense of what it’s like NOT to be the very wealthy son of an already wealthy father; no idea how the fear of unemployment or medical bills afflicts ordinary Americans.

The lack of empathy expressed for the experience of the large majority of Americans by ultra-rich political figures like Willard Romney continues to amaze. “United We Stand,” indeed. Yeah, sure. These people should NEVER be trusted with political power.

Go to the original post Here.

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