I have had the thought about health insurance that health care is, at least partially, so expensive because the consumers of health care do not see the costs directly. I believe it is around 90% of the country that has health insurance. If the bills are mainly paid by insurance companies, the consumer sees the cost only indirectly, particularly if the employer pays for health insurance.
I am somewhat ambivalent about what could be done to improve the situation. On one side, and my voices tell me that the Republicans are going to push for this solution if they get into power in the White House as well as the House and Senate, we could have the government pay for catastrophic illnesses – illnesses that would break most families financially, and let the market handle the rest of medical care. On the other hand, from my experiences in college, convenient, free, or nominally charged health care, with easy access to doctors, is great. And, having been very poor in my life – I received health care from a teaching hospital and from the charity of a physician during the years I had little money and no insurance – I know that some system needs to be in place for the very poor.
Personally, I suspect the Affordable Care Act will help bring health care costs down, since the act was designed to do so. I feel the act was, at some level, a sop to Republican legislators – President Obama trying to accommodate opposing views. I am afraid that the disinformation about the act being put out by the Republicans is just that, disinformation meant to gain political advantage – not a realistic assessment of the act or in the interest of the American people.
But, having spent the last day in 90 to 100 degree weather, driving without air conditioning, I think that climate change is like health insurance. Not so many years ago, we had central air put in our house. My husband’s and my cars are usually air conditioned. Air conditioning is becoming almost universal in the United States. In our air conditioned spaces, we do not feel the heat, we do not feel the effect of our actions and go blithely on our ways. I suspect if we had to live in the heat we are creating, we would do something about our fossil fuel consumption. (As an aside, to cool air takes energy, which heats up the outdoors and, if the energy is produced by fossil fuels, which is often, furthers the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which furthers the heating on earth.)