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Why should I pay? [Aug. 1st, 2016|11:25 am]
The other day Ferrett was having a debate with someone over assorted political issues. One that came up was the Affordable Healthcare Act. This person, in their* 30s, demanded to know why they should pay for health insurance when they were young and healthy. What, exactly, were they getting out of the money they were spending for insurance?

It struck me, then, that I've heard this argument before, and been just as irritated by it.

It's the argument that retired people make when voting down school bonds: "Why should I pay for the schools anymore? My kids don't go there. I don't get anything out of it."

It's the same argument, snarled from the far ends of the bell curve.

Yeah, it's a bummer to have to pay taxes. I know. I pay lots of them. My kids aren't in school anymore. But they were. And so was I, once. And someone else footed that bill. So I don't object when it's my turn to pay for the benefit I once received.

And yes, when you're young it hardly seems fair that you have to pay for insurance that you probably won't use. But guess what, bucko? You won't be young forever. And when you aren't, someone else will be paying premiums that get spent on your health care, just like you're paying premiums now.

These systems don't work if everyone doesn't participate. I paid insurance premiums for years on when we never even met the deductible. And then there are years like the one when Ferrett had his appendix burst. Or his heart attack. We weren't financially ruined by those events, because we had insurance. And we had insurance because lots of people pay premiums and only use a fraction of that amount in a year. There was a pool of money to pay the hospital because, through a flawed system that needs reform, millions of people had our backs.

The AHA isn't perfect--the insurance companies won far too much of that battle--and I would like to see lots of reform in the way medicine works in this country. But the plain fact is that no insurance system works unless healthy people pay in. If insurance was "opt in when you get sick" the whole system would be bankrupt in no time.

So, yes, most young people are paying for a service that they, gods willing, will not be using. This year. But even setting aside accidents and the fact that youth is not a guarantee against cancer or other diseases, they are paying forward for the services that they will need far sooner than seems possible. I didn't get to nearing-60 overnight, but sometimes it feels like I did.

I take great issue with the older person who thinks it's no longer to their advantage to pay for public schools through their taxes. And I take the same issue with the younger person who thinks they shouldn't have to pay for health insurance. We're all in this together, and it's the only way these systems work.

*yes, I'm using the singular "they." It's now considered acceptable, and I try to move with the times.

[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2016-08-01 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm happy to pay taxes. My family certainly benefits in many ways. I rather like the story about the man who didn't want to pay taxes (and therefore did not), and his house caught fire. The fire department showed up, made sure people were safe, and watched it burn, and hosed down the surrounding properties of taxpayers as needed.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2016-08-01 09:17 pm (UTC)
That used to happen in Fairbanks, when anything outside of city limits was on fire subscription. Numerous times, the fire department was there to ensure no loss of life and the safety of homes on either side. And the police department was there to protect the fire fighters from enraged assholes who, up until that moment, didn't see why they had to pay for something they didn't use.

They couldn't fight those fires, because if they did, people would stop paying. And they couldn't run without those payments. It was harsh, but people knew the consequences. They just didn't believe it would ever happen to them.
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[User Picture]From: tfcocs
2016-08-01 11:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This is one of the most cogent articles that I have ever read about the rationale for insurance.
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From: caudelac
2016-08-02 01:32 am (UTC)
I know you're not shocked, but I agree with this post so hard.

Edited at 2016-08-02 01:32 am (UTC)
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From: anonymousalex
2016-08-02 03:37 am (UTC)
Setting aside the (generally valid) arguments you make, I also think that people who argue this way are generally looking at things through some seriously unenlightened self-interest.

I do not, and never will, have children. The cost of my education, I think, was adequately accounted for by my parents' taxpaying. Do I object one whit at paying taxes to support public education? Or vote against most school bonds? No, because I recognize that I get substantial indirect benefit from an educated populace.

Same thing with health insurance. (For the record, I was actually without health insurance for a few unemployed years after graduating, and hated every minute of it.) But the indirect benefits of not having quite so many epidemics, plus not having to pay for quite so many uninsured people's emergency room visits, are quite enough to satisfy me.

I could rant more, but I'm just agreeing with you anyway.


P.S. Still not really happy with the singular "they," as it causes some mental dissonance, but I recognize that there's no good answer to the lack of third-person-singular-ungendered pronoun, only less bad answers.

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[User Picture]From: runeshower
2016-08-02 04:37 am (UTC)
Very well said!
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[User Picture]From: pachamama
2016-08-02 08:01 am (UTC)
Hear hear!
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[User Picture]From: hippie_mamabear
2016-08-02 07:28 pm (UTC)
Complaining about paying for insurance is pretty silly while some of it is still subsidized--there are ways to only "pay" what's already covered by the subsidy, so you technically have insurance per the law, but nothing is coming out of pocket until/unless you use it (then it's like a $1000 deductible. Which is fine, because you claimed you didn't need it anyway...). We did that the first year. The second year we paid, and it has been very affordable. Before that, we couldn't have even dreamed of the very crappiest insurance. Now we don't only have a safety net in case of some terrible accident or illness, but we can actually afford to see a doctor. It's...weird. We're not used to it yet and have only used it twice (both for my husband, for the same problem). But that's a hell of a lot more times than we saw doctors for the 15 years leading up to it.

And no benefit to young/healthy people? Really? You don't see a benefit to people getting a diagnosis and prescription for their problems instead of dying in the streets in front of you? Or, at the very least, coughing something up on you in the checkout lane? Some people just don't think things through very far.

Even if you don't have kids, you still need an educated public. Even if you don't need to see a doctor, you still need a healthy population. Even if you don't have a car, you still need roads and bridges to transport consumer goods.
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[User Picture]From: jume
2016-08-04 06:09 am (UTC)
I got to grow up without insurance and a mom on disability! I love that medicare and social security chunk that comes out of my taxes.

In fact, I found out that you can sign up for an account on the govt social security check to see what your disability or retirement payout would be :D
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[User Picture]From: candiedheart
2016-08-04 08:44 pm (UTC)
I hope you don't mind, but I sent this to a friend of mine when he tried to bring this argument to me the other day, and it seems like you may have gotten through to him.

Paying taxes and insurance premiums to me is like vaccinating: necessary for the public good, even if you might not personally agree.
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