Sunday, May 14, 2017

A hidden cost of the lack of guaranteed health-care coverage

Some years ago, I read John Callahan's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, in which the author writes about his life as a recovering alcoholic and a quadriplegic.  One of the things that I still remember, years later, is that he deliberately underpriced the cartoons that he drew for a living because he had to keep his income low enough to qualify for welfare--without it, he couldn't have afforded to pay for the personal care assistant who came every day to bathe, dress, and feed him and to help him with his toileting needs.

Some things haven't changed since the 1990's--thousands of Americans still need Medicaid to pay for their personal care assistants and their health insurance.  There must be thousands who, like Callahan, deliberately remain unemployed or underemployed because they can't afford to pay for their own care.  Seriously, if your treatment and/or medication(s) and/or personal care assistant cost you $1,000 per month or more, how much money would you have to earn in order to be able to pay for all that plus food, clothing, and shelter?  You literally couldn't afford to take any part-time, seasonal, irregular and/or unpredictable job(s).  Unless you could get a reliable full-time job with terrific health-care benefits, the U.S. health-care non-system would condemn you to a life of dependence on the public dole and/or charity and/or family just to survive.

Which brings me to the point of this post:  How much do the federal, state, and local governments lose in tax revenue from people who would be both able and delighted to work at least part-time and pay taxes if they had guaranteed, government-financed, tax-subsidized health-care coverage?  Wouldn't it make sense to have a system that enabled them to help support themselves and pay taxes toward their own health care costs, rather than trapping them, against their wills and against the best interests of their country, in a lifetime of dependency?  Why isn't anyone talking about this?


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