Letters to the Editor

Free riders

Our laws require hospitals to treat anyone who walks into their emergency room -- insured or uninsured; citizens or non-citizens; rich or poor. For those with insurance (e.g. Medicare, Obamacare, Medicaid, private health insurance), patients only pay what their insurance doesn't cover. Those without health insurance are billed the full cost. If they are unable or unwilling to pay, the cost of their care is added to our insurance premiums. The uninsured become "free riders" in our health system.

Obamacare required all citizens to have health insurance or pay an annual penalty. This reduced the "free rider" problem and made sure everyone contributed to the cost of their care. Ryan/Trumpcare proposed eliminating this requirement. Individuals who did not have health insurance could still receive care at any emergency room, even if they didn't want to pay for it.

This puzzles me. Why do Republicans want to give some individuals free health care, passing along the costs to the rest of us? I favor universal access to affordable health insurance, with premiums scaled to an individual's income. And substantial financial penalties for anyone who goes without it.

John Pilgrim

Durham

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