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Balancing Individual Rights with Social Responsibility

MANAGED CARE September 2005. © MediMedia USA
Editor's Memo

Balancing Individual Rights with Social Responsibility

John A. Marcille
MANAGED CARE September 2005. ©MediMedia USA

John A. Marcille

Some experts have long suggested that we should be able to buy health insurance the same way we buy car insurance. This maxim touches on the power of free markets and free will to transform a system. The mindset is one of knocking down barriers, in other words.

However, one of the elements of buying car insurance is that it's very difficult to not buy it. For instance, in my state (and, I hope, all states) you can't register a car without first showing that you have insurance. I suppose that you can allow that insurance to lapse and continue driving, hoping not to be caught. One can also save money by not declaring all of his income to Uncle Sam. Greed does not always show up at the local convenience store or bank dressed in a ski mask and demanding the loot. Greed often takes the passive voice of "forgetting" about those under-the-table earnings or letting the car insurance lapse.

Contributing Editor Martin Sipkoff's cover story on the potential rescue of those without health insurance touches on many facets of the issue, among them the fact that a lot of the uninsured have chosen to be uninsured. Should they be allowed this option? I've noticed that position on the political spectrum is no guarantee of where someone stands on this.

An America in which all have health insurance shouldn't be a matter simply of either government largesse or corporate suavity. Hold on there, one might say. People do have a right to decide whether to drive, thereby dodging car insurance, and driving, altogether. True. All of us, if given the choice, would decide not to get sick. Now, if only that were our call.

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