Post-mandate Rx: Do-it-yourself ‘death panels’!
The punditocracy generally sees the Obamacare arguments before the Supreme Court going badly for the administration, and in particular for the individual mandate that some say is the heart of health care reform. If the mandate does go under, along with health care reform, that will be seen by some as a victory for individual freedom — but it will also mean a big bite out of our collective wallets. Health costs will spike (and will surely continue to rise) while those who have health insurance will effectively subsidize those who can’t afford it — along with those libertarian freeloaders who want Big Government off their backs but still want the rest of us to take care of them when they fall ill.
At the New York Times’ Economix blog, Floyd Norris has a proposal to keep all those principled objectors in splendid isolation without hurting the rest of us: a “Do Not Treat” List:
Let the health plan continue as enacted, with government subsidies and rules to assure access to health insurance for everyone. But if someone is morally offended by the idea of buying health insurance, he or she should be given counseling about the risks but then allowed to decide.
Persons who decline insurance would be allowed to provide details of how they intended to pay for care otherwise, if they wished to do so, and to name a person who would be responsible for paying for the care if the patient were unable to direct payment, much as many people now have health care proxies.
Anyone who chose not to have health insurance, and not to indicate how they would otherwise pay, would be put on a “Do Not Treat” list. Hospitals could simply refuse to offer any treatment, respecting the person’s wish to make his or her own decisions free of an intrusive government trying to keep them alive.
I doubt many people would sign up for such a system, but it would certainly overcome the alleged constitutional flaw in the current health care law.
Some people might be concerned that such a system would amount to voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide. But surely they would put aside such qualms when they understood this was necessary to preserve our freedom not to be forced to buy something we do not wish to purchase.
Cool. Hey, you got to have the courage of your convictions. “Give me liberty and give me death!” It’s a great bumper sticker, at least.