I’m going to go way out here and say the crowd was kidding, a little, when they cheered the idea that the government should let an uninsured person die. That’s what happened at last night’s Republican presidential debate, as Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) suggested that making one’s own choices, including whether to buy health insurance or risk your life, is “what freedom is all about.” (ADDING: As commenter @Mark points out, Dr. Paul said he himself would not turn the man away.)
The people yelling for government to let the sick guy go to his grave, I’m willing to believe, are laughing at their own ghoulishness. It would be a lot funnier if we weren’t losing tens of thousands of Americans every year from lack of health insurance. This is a real-world problem. Yes, you can turn it into an ideological matter, but this is actually a practical problem with practical consequences for America.
Does this crowd or Congressman Paul really believe that most people who can afford health insurance choose instead to go without it? Has it been that long since they sat at an American kitchen table and tried to figure out how to keep their benefits after a layoff? Or how to get care when they’ve never had insurance, ever? Or even how to schedule an appointment with an overbooked doctor in an HMO system?
Do they seriously not know anyone who has struggled with those questions, even if they themselves have not?