The Health Insurance Debate and Fox News

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Anyone with even an ounce of common sense realizes that when more people become uninsured, a cascade of events begin to ripple through the entire health care industry. Generally speaking, doctors get paid less and must raise their prices to those that do pay. This results in higher health insurance premiums for all. Fox News, which is strongly opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, shocked me today by actually publishing a syndicated story regarding how the uninsured are costing everyone a lot of money.

Fox Business, which still falls under the Fox News umbrella, noted that regions which have a higher percentage of uninsured residents typically have a harder time gaining access to care. Does Fox Business lack even the most basic fundamentals of operating in the black? If people can’t pay for their medical care in a community, how can any medical practice survive? It can’t. The basic principles of operating in profit still apply in the health care industry, even though Fox does not appear to quite understand that principal yet.

Because over 17% of the adult population in the United States lacks health insurance, somebody has to pick up the bill for their medical care. This has been happening for many years, but the problem these days is that the large number of uninsured citizens is growing at an alarming rate. Should doctors charge health insurance companies more to compensate for those they provide care to that have no health insurance? Or, should doctors simply relocate to regions that have a population that can afford their services? In a free market, everything is on the table and few doctors are going to work for free.

What many people fail to acknowledge, including major media outlets, is that the entire population of the United States has been subsidizing medical care for the uninsured and those subsidies are rising every year. Since hospitals typically do not refuse emergency room care to patients, the ER becomes an urgent care facility that treats minor conditions including colds, sprains and other conditions that would be more cost effectively treated in a doctor’s office. When these patients bill up thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical bills, they can simply file bankruptcy and all the bills are washed away. Who pays for this? Everyone. Doctor’s charge health insurance companies more for services and our monthly premiums rise because of it.

Because the entire population is already subsidizing medical care for the uninsured, indirectly, isn’t it about time we just do it directly? By subsidizing medical care directly, we can not only alleviate the inefficient use of emergency rooms but we can also end the practice of trying to sweep the uninsured under the rug. Our monthly health insurance premiums are going up for a reason, and that reason is because the insured pool is shrinking rapidly and uncompensated medical care has grown sharply.

The reality is that the employer sponsored health insurance model this country has relied on for many years is quickly fading away. The “haves,” which typically blame the “have nots,” may find out soon that they too will be forced into the “have not” class if their monthly health insurance premiums continue to double every few years. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does restrict increases in premiums charged to policyholders, the Supreme Court may toss this basic protection out the window in 2012. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, just like members of Congress, it is time that everyone works together to solve the medical care problems which we are all paying for.