Why should a doctor’s visit cost less than a haircut?

Why should a doctor’s visit cost less than a haircut?

63Why do liberals begrudge union nurses a decent salary? Why shouldn’t twentysomethings pay for their own birth control if it means lower insurance premiums for, say, breast cancer patients?

Liberals love to wage war on Republicans, accusing them of a war on women. But maybe it’s time to turn that argument around. There are plenty of examples of how liberal policies in health care can actually hurt some women.

Let me explain—as I’ve previously pointed out, health care is expensive. Just do up a rough tally of the salaries of the professionals who care for you during a hospital stay. Their fees alone probably account for a good part of any bill. And in many hospitals, those workers are unionized. Many of them are women. Yet the very party that champions the plight of unionized workers and of women seems perfectly comfortable with selling America on the idea that health care on the cheap is possible. How is it possible…unless you plan on paying women health care workers less or asking some women to pay more for life-saving care?

This occurred to me as I observed several acquaintances, liberal Democrats who love the idea of the Affordable Care Act. These folks have gone without health insurance, even though they’re at an age when the body begins to need more care. Although I’ve not pressed them on particulars, I suspect they believe they can’t afford health insurance.

So, what would they do should they face a health crisis requiring hospitalization? Decline to pay for the nursing care they receive? The Envy crowd might like to churn up resentment at highly paid doctors and hospital executives in order to justify no or low payment, but hospitals are really institutions of nursing more than anything else. The doc might see you once a day if you’re lucky. Nurses tend to you around the clock. Union nurses, if the hospital staff joined with organized labor.

Why would a liberal want to begrudge adequate payment to those nurses? Yet that’s the outcome if you start squeezing payments to health institutions in order to make care more “affordable.”

In a previous piece on the topic of how expensive health care is, I quoted a father of a polio patient in the 1930s who talked of having to cash in savings to help his afflicted son. Yet he didn’t “begrudge” one penny of the expense, in those pre-health-insurance days, because it meant his child had received good care.

Since when did we start begrudging payment for health care? Since when did we start believing it was too expensive…when we’re getting care that prolongs lives and improves the quality of life for many previously untreatable conditions?

I regularly shell out 40 dollars to get my hair trimmed at a neighborhood salon. Why shouldn’t a visit to the doctor put me out more than that? Why should I begrudge a doctor’s office their fee or complain about its high price when I’m buying more expensive items throughout the year without batting a lash? And why shouldn’t young healthy people pay for their own birth control, instead of asking everyone–including, say, breast cancer patients–to pay more for premiums just so the younger gals can get The Pill for free?

Somehow, Americans have been sold on the idea that health care should be as inexpensive as going to the hair salon. Heck—less expensive. They’ve been sold on the idea that it’s their right to get inexpensive or even free health care.

Health insurance plans originally meant to cover catastrophic problems now regularly cover regular care. They’re not insurance plans so much as prepaid health care programs. We expect to get free checkups or office visits for copays below the cost of a good hair cut. We expect hospitalizations to be covered by…someone else, and prescriptions to be less than a monthly cell phone bill. This is ridiculous.

The next time a liberal starts complaining about the high cost of care and the need to make it “affordable” and “accessible” to more people, we now have the Affordable Care Act debacle to point at. It illustrates exquisitely how illogical it is to assume you can cover more people and provide more care…for less money.

But if they still don’t get it, then it’s time to start throwing this question back at those who argue for cheaper, more accessible care: What’s your problem–why do you begrudge union nurses –most of them women–a good day’s salary? And why do you expect breast cancer patients to pay for higher premiums just so a younger, healthier gal can get her birth control pills for free?

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. Follow her on Twitter at @LibbysBooks


Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg is an Edgar-nominated novelist whose works include humorous women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and historical fiction. Her political writings have appeared at Hot Air, the Weekly Standard, Insight, the Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.

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