What factors should be considered when answering this question: "Should people in poverty be getting more or less of tax supported health services than those paying into the tax base?"

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This question is one of the most controversial and highly debated topics in politics today.  There is no right answer to the question itself, instead it will come down to an individual's personal and political beliefs.  As you think through this question personally, there are several factors which may help you identify what you think, and why you take the stance you do.  

The following questions for consideration are in no particular order, nor is this list exhaustive.  It is also difficult to be completely objective, even in listing factors, so I encourage you to think about the different sides of each question listed below.  Hopefully this will help you get started and you will continue to add elements to the discussion before you formulate an answer.

  1. Why does the government help those in poverty at all?  What are long term effects of helping or not-helping people who need it?  (One great novel that speaks to this issue is Les Miserables.)
  2. What might happen if the government drastically reduced or completely cut health care benefits for the poor?  Consider both pros and cons.
  3. What is fair? Is it fair that some people pay very high taxes and also very high insurance premiums because they do not qualify for free or reduced health care?  Is it fair that people in poverty simply cannot afford private health care costs?  Is the quality of health care equal for private paying citizens and Medicare/Medicaid recipients? Can balance exist so that both the "rich" and the "poor" are satisfied?
  4. Can our government continue to afford subsidized health care at the rate we are currently spending? Our country is currently at the highest debt level we have ever been, historically.  Many people credit governmental health care aid as a top priority for reducing the national debt.  What are we sacrificing if health care is made a priority?
  5. Is the money being used responsibly?  Are there appropriate limitations in place for those receiving free health care benefits? To ask, "Should those in poverty receive more or less (financial) support," you have to ask, "Is the money utilized responsibly or being wasted?"  How does responsibility compare between those paying for health care themselves and those receiving free health care?
  6. What do the numbers tell us? Statistically speaking, how does poverty affect health care costs?  Are those in poverty spending more or less on health care than those who are not in poverty?  Or is it about the same?
  7. Do people have a right to be healthy; be free of disease; have chronic conditions treated; have work-impeding disabilities compensated for? Consider this from the point of view of an ill or disabled person with a family and consider the alternatives to health care, which once was street beggars and alms houses. Also consider what is the country's best interest in this regard.

Again, the above list is certainly not exhaustive.  This subject is so complex, our own government has not settled on a "solution."  Keep in mind that your own background and personal experience will also highly affect your answer, and in such a broad question, it would be completely appropriate to speak as personally as you wish in answering.


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