What a guy:
I asked Sen. Roberts if he supports scrapping Essential Health Benefits. "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms," he snarked. #AHCA
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) March 23, 2017
The good news is that nobody who might need a mammogram has ever been covered through a man’s health insurance. And probably Essential Health Benefits are all that kind of woman’s stuff, not things involving real people or anything.
You’d like to think Roberts is an outlier, but this is a fairly common Republican talking point. And this kind of obscene self-centerdness isn’t just for people who consider themselves conservatives. Tom Scocca’s response to Lori Gottlieb’s complaints that she had to continue to pay for maternity coverage after insurance (i.e. other people) had pad for her childbirth remains instructive:
Writing in today’s New York Times opinion section, the psychotherapist and Atlantic contributor Lori Gottlieb offers a shocking first-person account of why the Affordable Care Act is in so much political trouble: It’s because many Americans are too stupid and too selfish to understand how health insurance works, on the most fundamental level.
This is not what Gottlieb thinks she’s written. She thinks she’s written about how harsh and unfair Obamacare has turned out to be for ordinary insurance customers like her. As someone without employer-provided insurance, Gottlieb is facing “the cancellation of my individual P.P.O. policy and the $5,400 annual increase that I would have to pay for the Affordable Care Act-compliant option.”
Gottlieb describes this as “a serious burden on my family’s well-being,” and she is taken aback that when she complained about it on Facebook, only one person gave it a “like.” Many people—the “smug insured,” she calls them, a la Bridget Jones—expressed a complete lack of sympathy for her plight.
Maybe the reason that Gottlieb’s Facebook friends are not sympathetic toward her is that she is thoroughly unsympathetic. Under her new, intrusively excessive policy, she writes, “now if I have Stage 4 cancer or need a sex-change operation, I’d be covered regardless of pre-existing conditions.”
Yes, that’s right: the oppressive, thoughtless Obamacare rules require everyone to be covered even if they have such weirdo unlikely conditions as … cancer? As if!
What Gottlieb is discovering, belatedly, is how much it costs to buy real health insurance rather than fake health insurance. Cancer—this should be needless to say, yet it evidently is not—is a definitive example of why health insurance exists. The disease can strike, without warning, at any stage of life. Nobody sets aside money in the household budget as savings in case they might get cancer.
Why, the complainers ask, should the young and healthy be forced to pay for the health care of the old and sick? It might be the single dumbest argument about health insurance. This isn’t even the usual greedy antisocial libertarian line of complaint—well, I don’t have a kid, so why should my taxes pay for schools? There’s no need to invoke social unity or the common good: Young, healthy people are not a separate population from the old and unhealthy. They are the very same people, only at a different stage of life.
And cancer treatment and gender-reassignment surgery aren’t the only medical options that Gottlieb wants the freedom to decline. Another thing that’s driving up the price of her new Obamacare-mandated policy, she writes, is maternity care. “(Handy for a 46-year-old),” she sniffs.
Age is only part of the reason Gottlieb isn’t interested in paying for maternity coverage. The other part is that she has already had a baby. Until recently, she was enrolled in a plan that did provide maternity coverage, which allowed her to get other people—people who were paying higher premiums for the option of having a child, but who were not yet going through the expense of pregnancy and childbirth—to subsidize her own pregnancy and childbirth.
So once she’d collected the benefit, it was time to unload the costs onto the other suckers and get a new policy…
TrumpCare has a chance of passing because too many people think this way, even if “why would I care if insurance policies cover mammograms?” is more specifically Republican male.