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Got that. My point is that kes166's desire to not pay for health insurance is more like the person who wants to drive and not pay for liability coverage than it is like the person who doesn't want to pay liability, and so doesn't drive.

I think you are misunderstanding my point. If I wasn't able to afford auto insurance, I wouldn't use a car. Auto insurance, however, is rather important as it takes me an hour to drive to work which puts auto insurance high on my list of priorities.

I haven't been sick for awhile, however I have 2 kids. My kids are insured through Chip which takes the burden off me to need to have insurance. If I had insurance it would make it easier for me to find a dentist for my kids, but as it is, the way things are working out for me now is adequate, so I have no need for health insurance for myself. My wife occasional gets sick, but it's usually not bad. If there's anything that requires a doctor, there's a clinic rather close to my house where I can go for $50 and get medicine for that price in addition to seeing a doctor. I'm also a vet, so if I break a leg or something, I can drive down to the VA hospital in the next city and get treated for free. My only concern would be my wife having a serious illness.

I'm not saying I don't agree health insurance is useful, and when I get a raise I may very well opt to get it. Of course, getting a raise is a whole other can of worms. What I have a problem with is someone coming to me saying I need to buy something when I know I can't afford it. I can buy health insurance or I can buy oil to heat my house for the winter.

You can't opt out of getting sick - it happens to everyone. You can't opt out of accidents or disease. As it turns out, these individual misfortunes, when aggregated, are very expensive to society. On that logic, kes166's decision to go uninsured is a free rider problem, not simply a question of individual liberty versus an irrational totalitarian state. Just like the driver who thinks he won't have an accident - some number of them will, and they cost society a lot more in the aggregate than they save.

Having a car accident and getting sick aren't even close to being the same. A car accident can cost thousands of dollars. Getting the Flu, at least in my case, costs $50 dollars, which I pay, or free if I go to the VA, which taxes pay :)

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In that case, the law as written needs to be revised. I know the Massachusetts law on which it's based makes provision for people with low incomes - if you're under a threshold, some multiplier of minimum wage I think, you don't get the penalty and you have access to lower-rate plans.
I haven't looked at the national law in detail, honestly, but I'd be surprised if such a thing didn't exist there as well. For that matter, I'd be surprised if in your current situation you weren't meeting the requirements of the law, barring your wife's lack of coverage. You might want to look into that. It could be that you don't have anything to worry about in terms of compliance, or that you could be in compliance pretty easily.

Having a car accident and getting sick aren't even close to being the same. A car accident can cost thousands of dollars

You're right, they're not even close. A moderately serious condition or accident will cost far more than that. Friend of mine skipped going to the dentist for a few years - didn't have the money, or couldn't get the dentist up to the top of his priority list. Woke up Christmas morning two years ago with an abcess the size of a baseball. Had to go to the emergency room, cost him $10K just to deal with the abcess - and then he had the dental work to deal with. He'd have done a lot better to get his teeth checked up once in a while.

But the medical bills are only the start of it - the societal costs are huge, and harder to estimate, but they're the reason the health care business is such a big deal. It's not that we care about you and your kids, it's that you and your kids not having insurance takes money out of everyone's pocket. That's why it's a free rider problem.

Edited by jon.kiparsky: n/a

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jon.kiparsky wrote:

I disagree with that. If I get fined for not having health insurance, then I get legal action against me for not paying the fine, it's because I can't afford the health insurance bill, not because I want to make a point to whomever. I will make as big a stink about it as I can, but it's not because I'm making a point, it's because I'm trying to save myself.

That is the POINT!, if you are refusing to pay for health insurance because you truely do not have the money and have legal action against you and you make a big stink about it people with notice. If you can convince a jury that you really cannot pay for it do you really think they will convict you? It is by challenging the law in court because you've been arrested that civil disobeience works.

for instance assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal but some doctor perform it anyway. A patient challenged the law directly and was denied, she found a doctor to help her anyway and that doctor was not even prosecute for fear the jury would find them not guilty and effectively annul the law.

If you really want to defeat an unjust law you make it public that you are breaking it and the reasons why and be judged in the court of public opinion whether the law is just or not. You don't hide in the shadows hoping to get away with it.

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Nicely put
Yep.
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You're right, they're not even close. A moderately serious condition or accident will cost far more than that. Friend of mine skipped going to the dentist for a few years - didn't have the money, or couldn't get the dentist up to the top of his priority list. Woke up Christmas morning two years ago with an abcess the size of a baseball. Had to go to the emergency room, cost him $10K just to deal with the abcess - and then he had the dental work to deal with. He'd have done a lot better to get his teeth checked up once in a while.

But the medical bills are only the start of it - the societal costs are huge, and harder to estimate, but they're the reason the health care business is such a big deal. It's not that we care about you and your kids, it's that you and your kids not having insurance takes money out of everyone's pocket. That's why it's a free rider problem.

Your friend not going to the dentist was his decision. He choose not to take care of his teeth. Even though someone has no insurance, it costs $50 to $100 for a dentist visit/cleaning. He had to go to the ER and now he has to pay $10,000. Had he known there was a problem occuring from yearly checkups, there may have been a chance for him to get some sort of insurance.

As for costs to society, that happens within the scope of the laws. I have food stamps, oil assitance, and health insurance for my kids. All together, I get about 8k a year in assistance, but the way the system is currently set up, it's very very hard to get off assistance.

I make 30k a year, get 8k in assistance, and get an extra 3k from my tax return for not making enough for a family of 4 and all my paid taxes back. So I make 41k a year in all which is enough for us. So what happens if I make 32k a year? I lose all my assistance and the extra 3k a year. My wife had to quit a waitress job which paid minimum wage because we were losing money.

I need to get a raise from 30k to 45k-50k instantly (to account for taxes that will be withheld) or I'm screwed. The system is borked.

Edited by kes166: n/a

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Your friend not going to the dentist was his decision. He choose not to take care of his teeth. Even though someone has no insurance, it costs $50 to $100 for a dentist visit/cleaning. He had to go to the ER and now he has to pay $10,000. Had he known there was a problem occuring from yearly checkups, there may have been a chance for him to get some sort of insurance

The point is not his particular situation. The point is that maintaining people in good health is a lot easier and cheaper than returning them to good health, and this is mostly a societal cost, rather than a personal one.

One might argue that every owner of a building is responsible to see that their building doesn't catch fire, and to have it put out if it does. However, no sane person argues that we should return to private, for-profit fire departments operating competitively, because the cost of a fire going out of control is a societal one, and it's actually cheaper and more effective to treat the prevention as a societal cost, rather than as a privatized one. I'm claiming that situations like my friends are the typical outcome of privatized health insurance: that privatized health insurance tends to obstruct, rather than facilitate health care, and that this is a societal burden that we simply cannot afford, even if we were willing (as some seem to be) to tolerate a system which seems intentionally designed to increase misery and illness.
Now the Obama plan is not much like what I would want to see, but the logic underlying it is essentially this: each person without access to health care is part of a staggering and unnecessary expense that all Americans have to bear. (incidentally, they also undergo needless hardship, but we as Americans are okay with that) By making it more expensive to not have health insurance, we reduce the number of people who don't carry it.
If this bill fails to take into account a situation where someone simply does not have the income to pay for health care, then it's a terrible piece of legislation, but the underlying logic is actually coherent. This doesn't make it convincing to any particular person, but it's not just some arbitrary exercise of state power to further oppress the citizenry.

Your tax situation is a peculiar one, and I'm pretty sure that some clever person who understands tax law could give you a better answer there than I could. Can you get around this by filng "married, filing separately"? I drink coffee with a good tax lawyer sometimes, next time I see him I'll ask if he knows anything about this sort of situation.

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Your tax situation is a peculiar one, and I'm pretty sure that some clever person who understands tax law could give you a better answer there than I could. Can you get around this by filng "married, filing separately"? I drink coffee with a good tax lawyer sometimes, next time I see him I'll ask if he knows anything about this sort of situation.

There may not be, it is a common problem with needs-based assistance. I know government run student assistance where I am suffers this problem as well. If a student gets a job to make more money to pay of some debt the funding they receive is reduced so the net money they receive is the same only now they are working 20hs a week instead of studying.

But on the other hand if you don't have a degradation or cut-off then how do you ensure your only giving money to people who need it?

There must be some way to balance it so working and bringing in more money always increases the total amount of money you have available but is seems most governments can't be bothered to figure it out...

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It's true, there are a lot of perverse incentives created by assistance programs. My girlfriend was looking to go back to school, and she was rather peeved to find that if she were on public assistance, with kids (and unmarried) she'd have access to a lot of programs, but as a working unmarried woman without kids there was nothing for her. And because she had an income - working full time will do that - she was out of scope for financial aid, which is nonsensical because her income was from a job that she'd have to leave in order to go back to school.

The good news is she's now getting ready to write her thesis for a dual masters degree in archives and history, and she's working two jobs in her field and building up a lot of resume while her classmates who don't have to work are starting to panic about looking for jobs. She's going to be way ahead of them, because she's been managing a municipal archive and also fielding reference requests for a research library for the last two years, while they've working on their blogging skills.

Of course, that's an anecdote, and it runs counter to the data - she's an anomaly.

There must be some way to balance it so working and bringing in more money always increases the total amount of money you have available but is seems most governments can't be bothered to figure it out...

The problem seems to be that poverty is considered a vice by a large fraction of the US populace, and public services are positively sinful. The reasonable solution would be to assume that people who get an education and remain healthy end up contributing more to the tax rolls, so education and health are public goods, like roads and cops.

If we have socialized roads and cops and armies, why not socialized education and medicine as well?

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Logic is a set of rules established without boundaries and left mostly for decorum and courtesy. Disobedience is judged by a code of conduct established by either society or community that when not followed causes a disruption.

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LOGIC is when you disobeyed the law. DISOBEDIENCE is when you get caught. Fairly simple.

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