A recent article on Vanity Fair about current issues as a result of economic inequality said:
The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.
And, just to bear that out, in case you haven’t heard, the Republicans are proposing some awful budget cuts, especially to Medicaid. Echidne points out that this is an explicit attempt to put the burden of limiting costs on individuals, while taking away the buying power that has helped Medicaid keep costs low. In short, they’re going to force individuals to do the impossible – or face life-or-death-and-or-bankruptcy decisions.
A blogger for The Economist had this to say:
Mr Ryan thinks this is a good thing, because individuals who are responsible for paying for their own health insurance will be strongly motivated to seek better insurance at a lower price. I think this is a terrible thing, because the mechanism Mr Ryan is using to incentivise people to seek better coverage for the price is to expose them to the risk that they will suffer from disease for which their insurance doesn’t cover them. The threat that you will suffer illness with inadequate treatment because you can’t afford it and your insurance doesn’t cover it is certainly a pretty strong motivator for most people to seek better insurance. But the purpose of insurance is to insulate people from risks like that. …
I agree with Mr Ryan that the government needs to limit taxpayers’ exposure to Medicare cost inflation. I think this plan is a fundamentally immoral way to do it.
Shorter, from Jonathan Zasloff at the RBC:
[The Republican plan is] called increasing the number of uninsured and underinsured people in this country by several tens of millions. For Republicans, having health insurance is like having any other commodity: if you can afford it, you do, and if you can’t, you can’t.
The Republicans and the top 1% of earners don’t really believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. They know those tides don’t come from nowhere. They do believe they’ve got solid hulls, though, so they’re busy making a tide to lift the biggest boats by throwing other people off of government life rafts. Sink or swim indeed.