Perception of Free Medical Care Highlights Government Role in Life

Friday, 03 Jan 2014 06:39 AM

By Michael Carr

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Now that the New Year has begun, health insurance is more widely available than ever and some analysts are wondering if consumers understand there is still a cost for healthcare.

In reality, the Affordable Care Act requires the payment of insurance premiums, deductibles and copayments. After struggling to enroll in a plan for the right to pay larger-than-expected premiums, the new concern about the law seems to be that deductibles will make healthcare unaffordable.

There is actually a concern that some people believe healthcare is free if you have insurance. Many of us always understood that Obamacare was about health insurance rather than healthcare. The mandate upheld by the Supreme Court requires consumers to pay premiums rather than visit a doctor.

However, the question of whether people understand deductibles and copays offers insight into the role of government in everyday life. Government is widely viewed as a dispenser of benefits. Few people actually pay large tax bills so the costs are hidden and there is a sense of entitlement associated with almost every government program.

Unlimited benefits are expected. Cutting food stamps to 2008 levels or reducing unemployment benefits to six months instead of more than a year are controversial decisions. Too many Americans now believe we face a constant economic struggle and only the government can help.

Eventually, American exceptionalism will reassert itself. In the meantime, government will be viewed as a source of free stuff by many, until the few who pay their bills become overtaxed and less able to pay. By making at least a few more pay for the cost of wealth redistribution, the Affordable Care Act might be beneficial.

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