Keep it up, guys

Because if you keep giving us this kind of ammunition, we'll have a French style healthcare system, and I can't wait. Via Krugman comes this article from Business Week that deals with the transfer of medical costs for the uninsured to what are, essentially, collection agencies. It's filled with all sorts of anecdotes about people who got blindsided by unforeseen medical bills, but who, instead of owing hospitals, owe financial giants such as General Electric, U.S. Bancorp, Capital One, and Citigroup among others. Mind you--these companies are targeting those people who are least likely to be able to pay, and they're being popped with interest rates as high as 28% a year, being harassed, forced into bankruptcy, and generally made to feel like bad people simply because they can't afford the medical treatment that might save their lives.

It's this kind of attitude that gives me hope, though.

With more uninsured patients failing to pay medical bills, she said Satilla has to rely on HELP. "When you go to the dentist or the vet, you know you have to pay. If you go to the hospital, why should it be different?" said Katrina Wheeler, Satilla's chief financial officer. HELP's Posa said that it's up to ­Satilla and other hospitals to decide on appropriate interest rates: "What is right in one market may not be right for another."
Part of my response is that dental ought to be included in any universal health care system, but that's getting a little ahead of the game. It's the sneering attitude of people like Ms. Wheeler that will get us a national healthcare system, because there are a lot of people who are hoping against hope that they stay healthy because they're not covered, and there's also a lot of people dosing themselves with booze or pain killers to mask tooth pain who'll hear a statement like that and vote for the first person who'll promise to put Ms. Wheeler out of work. It's not that I wish bad things to happen to her in particular--I just want her job to become redundant. I'll even support a tax-funded program to train her for some other job.

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