New bill from Illinois Dem: The unvaccinated have to pay their own hospital costs related to COVID

Sounds fair to me.

But why does it sound fair to members of a party that supports Medicare for All?

We’ve been through this argument before. Inevitably the response to asking the unvaxxed to bear their own costs is, “What about obesity?” Well, what about it? Charging the obese higher monthly premiums would be sensible from a conservative pre-ObamaCare view of health insurance, which pegged costs to relative risk instead of treating health coverage like it’s welfare.

A sudden new rule denying the obese any coverage for hospital care would be harsh, partly because losing weight doesn’t happen overnight and partly because it can be difficult for some due to genetic factors. But I’ll tell you what: If Pfizer comes out with a free vaccine that prevents obesity-related health problems and someone opts not to get it, then sure, make that guy pay his own hospital bills too.

Liberals are cheering this proposal today, apparently not realizing how it might complicate their standard argument that free health care should be available as a matter of right.

“If you choose not to get the vaccine and end up catching covid and end up having any medical expenses, you are responsible for those costs,” [state Rep. Jonathan] Carroll, 47, said Tuesday. “No one is telling anyone what they have to do. What we’re saying is if you make that decision to not get vaccinated and you are hospitalized, that’s the decision you’re making, and there’s consequences to that. It’s a simple formula.”…

Carroll said it was “exceptionally ironic” that some conservatives who remain unvaccinated and Republicans opposing the bill have long opposed the Affordable Care Act.

“The people who complain about Obamacare are going to point to Obamacare as the reason why this bill can’t happen,” he told The Post, laughing. “They’re going to be citing the Affordable Care Act if it goes through the process and gets to a vote.”

“I think it’s time that we say: ‘You choose not to get vaccinated, then you’re also going to assume the risk that if you do catch COVID, and you get sick, the responsibility is on you,’” Carroll said in a separate interview this week. But his colleague, state Rep. Dan McConchie, complained that Carroll was “taking health care away from Illinoisans.”

A reminder: The guy preaching “personal responsibility” here is the Democrat and the guy warning about Illinoisans losing health care is the Republican.

Carroll’s idea to pressure the unvaxxed to get jabbed is unusual — but not novel. It’s already national policy in Singapore, where the government normally pays COVID health-care costs but recently decreed that it’ll make an exception for people who refuse be immunized. If you catch the virus there without having gotten your shots and you land in the ICU, you’ll have a hefty bill waiting for you afterward.

“Because of their choice, unvaccinated individuals account for the bulk of hospital isolation and [intensive care unit] beds, and contribute disproportionately to the strain on our healthcare resources,” a Health Ministry spokesman said…

“They tried everything. They provided information, they provided facts, they’ve had people telling their personal stories, they’ve seen the ministers go and get their jabs, what else can we do?” said Hsien-Hsien Lei, chief executive officer of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and an adjunct associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. “We cannot afford to not use every tool in our toolbox, even if there is some level of stick involved in it.”

Carroll has made clear that his bill wouldn’t apply to people who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons, like an allergy. Maybe he’d also be willing to bend on exempting people with natural immunity, provided they can prove they’ve had COVID via an antibody test.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter since his bill is illegal under federal law and he knows it. He says it’s “a starting point” to discuss legal ways of pressuring the unvaxxed, although I think it’s actually a PR stunt to highlight how the unvaccinated are free-riding on more responsible people for their medical care.

Even if Carroll’s bill were legal, it’d have three problems. One: Many/most of the unvaccinated think COVID is no threat, in which case why would threatening them with having to pay hospital bills change their opinion on vaccination? Think of all the anti-vaxxers who point to the disease’s 99 percent survival rate as a reason not to bother getting jabbed, or all of the people who skipped the shot, ended up in intensive care, and then made videos from their hospital beds pleading with others not to make the same mistake. Hardly anyone who eschews vaccination believes they’re at meaningful risk of a severe case that’ll land them in the ICU.

Two: Hospitals would hate Carroll’s bill. Bad enough that the staff have to expose themselves repeatedly to COVID by treating unvaccinated people who could have avoided a trip to the ER if they had gotten immunized. But imagine asking them to do that knowing that they won’t be compensated for their work because those same patients don’t have a hope in hell of paying their medical bills without insurance. Either the state would have to pick up the tab, defeating the purpose of Carroll’s legislation, or hospitals would have to consider not treating the unvaccinated, which is a nonstarter ethically.

Three: If the unvaxxed were suddenly on the hook for COVID hospital bills, some of them would simply refuse to go to the hospital if they did end up with a severe case. Better to take your chances with fighting off the virus at home than go to the ER and know that your reward for surviving will be medical bankruptcy. Some of the unvaccinated who decline to go to the hospital will end up dying in their beds when they might have been saved if they had sought professional care. Not good.

You can understand Carroll’s frustration, though. Cases in Illinois are the highest they’ve been in a year and hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since January, yet more than a third of the state’s population remains unvaxxed. He’s grasping for incentives to improve the population’s immunity as quickly as possible.

I’ll leave you with this guy, who wants American families’ Christmas celebrations to be vaccinated-only affairs.

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