A lot of people are happy about health care reform. If you ask me, our country just got a lot less healthy.
When I had comprehensive health coverage, I engaged in all sorts of unhealthy behavior. I smoked. I drank. Sometimes I'd hit myself in the teeth with a metal bat. It's not like I'd have to worry about any medical bills.
It's simple: human health, like everything else, works according to market principles. When I had health insurance, I had no incentive not to get a deadly disease. After all, somebody else would be paying for my expensive cardiothoracic surgery or costly experimental radiation. I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, even if that horse were covered with tumors.
Then I lost my job and the insurance that came with it. All of a sudden, I adopted a healthy lifestyle. Instead of binging on fried snacks, I ate nothing but kale, the world's healthiest food. Rather than drive to an office and sit from nine to five, I jogged to the park and stood from eight to six. I stopped doing drugs to relieve stress and started selling drugs to pay rent.
My mother begged me to get insurance. She said I was predisposed to certain conditions, that my grandparents had suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure. But my grandparents lived in Europe, home of socialized medicine. My genes are American and know better than to give me a medical condition I can't afford.
To make my parents happy, I signed up for catastrophic coverage. Now if I got hit by a bus, my insurance company would pay for someone to drag my lifeless body out of the street and onto the sidewalk.
Chronic illnesses had lost their appeal, but catastrophes were still a good deal. Major accidents entitled me to free hospital visits -- including meals, cable TV, and electricity, unhealthy luxuries I'd recently given up. If you know what you're doing, getting injured is easy. Even if you don't know what you're doing, it's not too tough. You basically just have to walk into things.
Everyone in the ER was pulling some kind of hustle: children getting 'required' inoculations, illegal immigrants having anchor babies, old people complaining that they were "dying," unemployed young men with catastrophic health insurance but no way of paying for groceries.
After my twelfth free visit to the hospital, the insurance company raised the premium on my policy. I could no longer afford health insurance -- or the dangerous temptations it created. My insurer had priced me out of risky behavior, like a prostitute who charges extra for unprotected sex.
Soon, the government will force me to buy health insurance. I probably won't get sick until then -- without insurance, getting sick doesn't make much sense -- but I may try and swallow something. During an invasive procedure to remove a foreign object from my body, a surgeon could nick an artery or carve his name somewhere inside of me. With doctors' errors worth untold millions in malpractice money, botched surgery beats getting a job.
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