Ever heard of the The South Fulton, Tennessee firefighters? They’re the ones that you may read about every year or so that let houses burn down if the resident didn’t pay the $75 annual fire department fee. The fire trucks will actually drive to the scene to make sure no lives are threatened and the fire is contained, but they will literally watch as the house burns to the ground. Needless to say this upsets a lot of people; if the firemen are on the scene, turn the hose on and help save the house! The logic applied though is that if they put one fire out for someone that did not pay the $75 fee, then nobody would pay the fee. Payment of the $75 fee is not mandated by law.
There is a lot of news lately about ObamaCare or shall I say more appropriately the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is a politically divisive topic, to say the least. ACA is extremely complex and rules are still being written, but I’d like to comment on one piece of it: the requirement for all citizens to obtain health insurance.
Ever heard of EMTALA – Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act? “It requires hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions.”
By mandating emergency care treatment to the uninsured and not mandating health insurance, as a society we’re basically saying you have to put the fire out, but you don’t have to pay the $75 fee. Economically this model fails. This is not the only reason the health industry in the US is broken, but it’s one of them.
So should everyone get health insurance or should we stop treating the uninsured? Gotta pick one.