The core issue behind the new national health care law comes to this – personal freedom vs. personal responsibility.
The latest federal court decision on Tuesday squarely confronts that issue in detail for the first time. Five individuals challenged the law saying they can afford health insurance coverage, but just do not want to buy it – a matter of their personal freedom.
The new law requires individuals, beginning in 2014, either to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty.
The five individuals claimed they will either pay out of pocket for medical services or refuse medical care altogether. They are in la-la land.
Judge Gladys Kessler of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia rejected their wishful thinking. The U.S. Supreme Court, of course, will be the final arbiter now that three courts have ruled in favor and two courts against the constitutionality of the new law.
The five individuals bringing the case were an unemployed 60-year-old, a 53-year-old self-employed chiropractor, a self-employed 49-year-old, a 36-year-old stay-at-home mother of three children and a self-employed 62-year-old.
This last person actually would be eligible for the Medicare public insurance program for the elderly by the time the law's individual mandate takes effect in 2014. Lucky her.
As for the other four individuals, how do they know what or when illness or accident might befall them? What if they suffer a heart attack or severe trauma in a car accident or fall, are in shock or unconscious, and are in no position to refuse medical care? It simply defies reality for any person to state categorically that they will never, ever consume medical services.
And how can they possibly know whether they can pay out of pocket? The average hospital stay in the United States in 2008 lasted 4.6 days and cost $29,046. What if these individuals suffer injuries or illnesses that go beyond "average"?
To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.