universal health care = tort reform

A blogger on Quora said this recently:

“Do you support universal healthcare? Then quit smoking. Moderate or discontinue your use of drugs and alcohol. Exercise. Eat as well as your means and circumstances allow. Because it’s only if you take personal responsibility for being as healthy as you Ramsay-Snowcan be and reducing your expected healthcare costs that you have any business asking the rest of us to pitch in.”

Here is my response:

By this logic, I could say “Don’t want to support universal health care? Fine. Stop using all electricity that comes from fossil fuels or that pollutes the air. Stop driving your car. Sell all your 401K and Roth IRA portfolios that contain companies that expend fossil fuels, or poison our water, or create runoff that ends up in waterways, or put sugar or addictive additives in foods that contain too much fat and salt and bad things. If you’re a stockholder or CEO of a company that owns factories that pollute, shut them down. And never eat peanuts out near other people, or any other foods that might cause allergies in others. And never have an accident or block a wheelchair ramp or cause anyone to sustain a workplace injury or get repetitive motion injuries because they have to walk around your car or gate or baby stroller every day. Because it’s only if you take personal responsibility for letting us breathe air and drink water and eat food that is as healthy as it can be and reducing our expected healthcare costs from things YOU caused that you have any business claiming that it’s not your responsibility to pitch in.”

What I don’t understand about some conservatives who hate universal healthcare is that they love tort reform. Because most of the reasons people sue each other over coffee injuries and workplace stress is the cost of medical care.

You know what happens in countries with universal health care? Tort reform!

New Zealand passed a law in 2001 that takes those lawsuits off the table for good. You fall down in a grocery store in New Zealand because they just mopped the floor? You make a claim with the ACC and they fix you up. But you can’t sue the store. The burden of suing the grocery store is REALLY high, virtually impossible, and the only excuse might be if they were a medical parts company that provided you a hip replacement part using ACC money that was intentionally defective. All other injuries are an ACC matter. Fire the lawyers, and get rid of all those fees, because you, my friend, have tort reform!Fired-a-Lawyer

And it’s not only about your right-wing need to protect your company at all cost.

  • kiwi2It’s also better for doctors, who don’t need much malpractice insurance.
  • It’s also better for patients, who don’t need to sue for money to pay.
  • It’s better for tourism, because people know if they get hurt in NZ, they’re covered.
  • It’s better for fruit cocktail parties, because no one can sue you if they slip on a banana peel! 

And so now the courts are free to convict sheep thieves, or hobbit-baggers, or whatever the hell crimes Kiwis commit over there while they’re mispronouncing their short “i” sounds.

D. M. Collins

D. M. Collins is a journalist and writer based in Los Angeles.

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