As we continue to discuss how to reform our health care regulations and hand-outs, it seems to me that we ought to step back and think about what, exactly, we are trying to achieve. As I understand it, the goal ought to be to encourage responsibility. For President Obama, and most others on the Left, "responsibility" seems to mean that the better off should be responsible and help pay for the health care of the less fortunate. Fair enough. The only trouble is the responsibility requires liberty. The effort to be responsible in this sense cuts against the goal of increasing the responsibility of citizens, which, as I understand it, ought to be the chief concern. A responsible person pays his own bills, just as responsible parents provide for their own families.
The goal of reforms, in other words, ought to be to encourage people to pay for as much of their own health care as possible. Admittedly, the "as possible" line might be fairly low. That does not, however, mean it does not exist. When someone's tires get old, we don't expect auto insurance to pay for new tires. Similarly, we don't expect insurance to pay for oil changes. Or, turning to our houses, we don't expect the government or insurance to pay for a new boiler (unless we have special policies for that). Why should health care be different? Why should we not expect citizens to pay for regular check-ups? Why should we not expect people to save money for the almost inevitable health problems that crop up in our lives. To be sure, some people will need help at lower priceline than others--that's what charity is for. But that does not change the underlying idea that the goal ought to be to encourage citizens to be as responsible as possible for their own health care.
If, however, those problems are very serious, and start to require lots and lots of money, that's when insurance ought to kick in. Health savings accounts, combined with high-deductible policies, were an effort to move in that direction. That's why the Left fought it. They disagree with the principle involved. The Left believes that health care is a right, and, therefore, that it ought to be provided, virtually from the first dollar. As we discuss reform, thoseof us who disagree ought to challenge that principle. I suspect that most Americans, when the question of principle is raised, would not agree with the Left (even if most Americans tend to like the hand-outs they get).