A Philosopher's Blog

Obama, Insurance, and Veterans

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on March 19, 2009

While conservatives often tout the benefits of privatizing things and accuse Obama of being a socialist, there is considerable opposition to an administration proposal to bill veterans’ private insurance for service related injuries.

While the government should take steps to cut expenditures, shifting the burden of paying for the treatment of service related injuries to the soldiers and their insurance is not a good idea.

First, implementing such a plan will save relatively little money. The estimate is that the government will save $530 million each year by implementing this plan. While this is a considerable sum to most people, it is rather tiny compared with the billions AIG received. If we can afford to dump billions into companies like AIG, surely we can afford to pay millions to help our soldiers. Are we so poor that we cannot take care of those who have bled in our service?

Second, the plan is a public relations fiasco. While there are no doubt some people who approve of the plan, the reaction has been uniformly negative. Even Jon Stewart expressed his outrage at this plan.  While I dislike paying taxes, I do not begrudge any of my money that is used to treat veterans. The evidence seems to be that most people also think this way.  Even the folks who have been calling Obama a socialist are for this socialized medicine. Weighing the savings against the damage it would do to the administrations popularity and approval rating shows that this is not a good idea.

Third, there is the obvious moral argument. Veterans who are injured in the line of duty deserve to have their medical bills paid by the taxpayers. The moral basis for this is the fact that these soldiers are injured on behalf of the people and this creates a debt that must be paid. In short, if soldiers are injured in service to the country, then the country owes them. To bill their insurance shows a profound lack of gratitude for their sacrifices.

As such, the Obama administration should stop considering this proposal. The prudent and right thing to do would be to issue a statement saying that the proposal is no longer being considered. An apology to the veterans might also be in order.

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3 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on March 21, 2009 at 5:36 am

    The Army is a socialist structure. Socialism works at smaller levels than national. At the national level, a centralized government cannot efficienly manage the whole system, so a decentralized “capitalist” system works much better. At smaller scales, like armies and families, socialism has benefits, though of course those structures still exist in a capitalist nation, thus giving them more money for better training and equipent. One would also hope they’d get better medical treatment then say, Venezuala.

    To bill insurance companies for a limb that got blown off by a Taliban member is pretty bad though. It’s somewhat understandable that some service members may have to pay for injuries that didn’t happen in relation to their jobs, but who wants to be deployed to Afghanistan thinking that the Army won’t pay for a terrible injury that resulted from fighting for your country?

    Hey, I can see first hand that socialized medicine here results in a somewhat lower level of service. But soldiers shouldn’t have to worry about medical treatment. They need to focus on the mission, and the Army taking care of injured soldiers is one of the things that gives us the greatest fighting force in the world.

    There are many things going on in the military that evidence a shoddy treatment of soldiers. Let’s not add one more to the list.

  2. Kernunos said, on March 21, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I am not so sure that caring for the soldiers should just be considered a socialized medicine structure. I am not sure it is fair to compare the two. After all, the soldier has exchanged service to his country for being taken care of.

  3. magus71 said, on March 22, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Well lets be clear: The socialized struture of the Army has it’s drawbacks. #1 is that titanic amount of red tape. In some ways, it’s almost paralyzing.

    But yes, I understand what you’re saying, kernunos; soldiers aren’t sucking off the system and giving nothing back. They’re doing a job and receiving a benefit.


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