Healthcare does not fit into the schema of a free-market economy. In a free market, if you show up to a car dealership with the intention to drive away with a new Cadillac, you simply cannot do it without paying, short of robbery.
With medical care, that is simply not the case. If you show up to an emergency room in need of care, you will not be turned away.
A 2010 study from the RAND Corporation concluded that 28 percent of acute care visits were handled by emergency physicians, a group that makes up fewer than five percent of doctors. More than half of these visits were from the uninsured, an astronomical number that the general public has to subsidize. That's not to mention the uninsured that have real emergency incidents and chronic medical conditions.
This is an economy in which, regardless of intent, we all share the risk — but one in which some escape the responsibility of putting money into the pot. As such, the only people who stand to lose much are those uninsured who have helped drive our system into a state of catastrophe.
Columnist J.D. Kleinke wrote about this in a recent in a New York Times piece titled "The Conservative Case For Obamacare." "The individual mandate recognizes that millions of Americans who could buy health insurance choose not to, because it requires trading away today’s wants for tomorrow’s needs," Kleinke wrote. "In the partisan war sparked by the 2008 election, Republicans conveniently forgot that this was something many of them had supported for years. The only thing wrong with the mandate? Mr. Obama also thought it was a good idea."
The question becomes simple: If an individual is not putting into the system that de facto protects him, then why should everyone else be footing the bill in his name? And that is the very reality that makes both sides of the political spectrum uncomfortable.
When politics divide, I would like to think that reality unites. But then again, this is 2013, and we are talking American politics here. And judging from the jokes sprinkling through my Twitter feed last night around midnight, who the hell wants reality when insanity is so much more entertaining?