OPINION: Even locker room talk involves health care

JACKSON – Here were two strangers in a capital city gym locker room – one getting dressed after a workout and the other changing clothes to work out.
The television, positioned on top of the lockers, was blaring on a cable news channel. The discussion was centered on, of all things, health care.
Imagine that.
At issue in the news report was a proposed requirement in some legislation that people buy health insurance if they could afford it. If they could not afford it, the government would subsidize the purchase.
The younger locker room attendee says out loud – one can only assume – to the other, older person getting dressed, “I should not have to buy health insurance if I don’t want it.”
He might have mumbled under his breath that a requirement to buy health insurance is only a short stone’s throw away from Nazism or socialism or maybe satanism – at least some type of ism.
A simple credo to live by is that it is never a smart idea to get in a political debate in a locker room with a stranger while dressing
But would a simple question be OK?
“What about mandatory automobile liability insurance?” was that question with perhaps a thought under the breath about whether that is an “ism” too.
No, the younger locker room dressee explained, mandatory automobile liability insurance is a good, needed thing. I guess that means it is not one of those dreaded “isms.”
Mandatory automobile insurance protects motorists from those uninsured drivers who cause a wreck and can’t pay for the damage they cause.
In other words, mandatory liability automobile insurance is a government mandate for the good of society. A person driving along minding his or her own business who is hit by another motorist should not have to pay to get his or her car fixed when the other person caused the accident.
To ensure that does not happen, most states, including Mississippi, have determined that all drivers must have liability automobile insurance.
Part of the privilege of driving carries the responsibility of having auto insurance.
But mandatory medical insurance is a different story.
Or is it?
What about the person driving who is involved in a car accident and is injured?
That person is taken to the hospital emergency room and treated.
If that person has no insurance or resources to pay, who bears the cost for the transportation to the hospital and the treatment that literally could run into the tens of thousands of dollars?
The answer to that is simple. Other people with insurance or companies that provide insurance to their employees pay. That results in higher health insurance premiums, or higher deductibles and fewer benefits or a combination of those things.
And what about the person who goes into the emergency room at 2 a.m. with severe abdominal pain that is diagnosed as appendicitis requiring surgery, or as something even worse? What if that person does not have health insurance or the ability to pay?
What happens?
By law, the hospital is required to provide treatment, which again could cost literally tens of thousands of dollars.
And again the hospitals recover at least some of those losses by charging more to the people and companies with the ability to pay.
That is our current health care system.
The person getting dressed in the locker room might have said he had never thought of the issue in those terms. And on many levels it makes sense for everyone to be insured. But who knows for sure what was said because it is best not to get into a discussion about politics in a gym locker room with a stranger while in some stage of undress.
It is much wiser to talk about sports. No, wait. That might present problems, too.
The weather might be the best topic of conversation.
Does that television get the Weather Channel?

Contact Journal Capitol Bureau reporter Bobby Harrison at bobbyharrison@djournal.com or (601) 353-3119.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

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