Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Death Panels, Oh My!

As much as I'm not convinced that Sarah Palin is made of Presidential timber, she did drop an extraordinarily adroit turn of phrase when she predicted that government-run health care would result in the creation of "death panels" that decide and control which people with expensive-to-treat medical conditions will be treated and which ones will not. It doesn't particularly matter whether or not it's specifically in the bills that are being debated; simple supply and demand dictate that such things will inevitably occur. It's short, it's snappy, and it resonates. I'm not sure it's entirely honest, though, because "death panels" exist right now in any situation where somebody else pays the way.

There are only five possible resolutions that can occur when a potentially huge medical bill looms:

1) You have private insurance and you can get your insurance to cover it.
2) You get the government to pay for it.
3) You get a charity to pay for it.
4) You or your family have sufficient financial resources to pay for it.
5) Nobody pays for it and the treatment doesn't happen.

Of the four resolutions under which the treatment occurs, the only one that offers full control is #4 - if you pay for it yourself. Unless you shell out the cash, you have to deal with some sort of "death panel." With private insurance, you usually have some control over which "death panel" you'll have to deal with. With the government, you'll have no control. With charity, you'll have no control. If it's really important to you that you or your family don't ever have to fight for the medical dollars to save a life, then what you really need to do is make the decisions that take you to a place where you have the financial wherewithal to control your own destiny.

The Democratic intention to move the entirety of health care under the iron umbrella of government mandates will eliminate your ability to even create a situation where you have empowerment. Ben Franklin's aphorism that those who will trade liberty for safety deserve neither could not possibly apply more than it does here. True freedom and true safety are the results of being able to rely on yourself and your family. Under any other circumstances, you'll probably find yourself staring down the barrel of a "death panel." It's bad enough dealing with them now; if the government is the only choice in town it will be much worse.

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