Truthfully I do not go to coffee shops to eavesdrop, but it inevitably happens that some random conversations catch my ear. Today’s conversation was between two women discussing healthcare in “socialist” countries where “they don’t have to pay for it—it’s ‘free’” —and a remodel of one of the woman’s kitchens because “it was so outdated after five years…”

 

The gap between the mentality of these ladies and my view as a business owner and entrepreneur was nearly incomprehensible. Listening for perhaps 15 minutes I heard one woman say she advocated government-provided free healthcare, because it is too expensive … for her and her family it costs thousands a month! Then she jumped to the topic of how she got a first-hand look at how socialism and government-provided “free” healthcare works … she saw it on her family’s six-week trip to Europe.

 

Then she began to chat about how when they returned she was working on the remodel of her kitchen. She had just ordered a $3000 granite countertop on her new kitchen island and another couple of thousand on the glass tile backsplash. Then the conversation bounced yet again to living a “green” life and how the environment needs to be preserved … and her conversation moved onto gutting an remodelling her master bath and getting rid of a garden tub, and the number of dumpsters and all the glass, etc. that was coming out of the house, and disposing all of the resulting broken glass … in the trash.

 

What an illustration of a disconnect between espoused beliefs and actual behavior! I have no problem with the acquisition of things, or spending money you have on remodelling. But do not expect me to be agreeable to government provided healthcare and my taxes going up because someone would rather spend $100K on a remodel than pay a thousand month for health insurance.

 

I admit that paying nearly a thousand dollars a month for insurance as an individual, let alone what the family premiums would be, is an expense that takes up a substantial part of my budget each month. My premium for insurance is about the same as my mortgage payment. But I don’t view it as optional. I view it as an investment in my health and future. With only one medical crisis over the past 10 years, it was an investment well made. Would my total annual premium pay for a six-week vacation in Europe? Yes. Would it pay for a kitchen update? Yes. Would it look good in my investment account? Yes. However, paying for health insurance is a higher priority than a six-week vacation. I have one life. I can work harder and make money for a vacation, my investments, a home remodel. I can drive a less expensive older car. I can find other ways to save money.

 

The other dichotomy in this woman’s perspective: Her $500 handbag, Mercedes convertible and $1000 shoes point to the fact that she can afford her healthcare premiums. She just wants the money for something else. I don’t begrudge her the shoes, the handbag or the car. I fully believe if you can afford it, then you can buy it. What I wouldn’t agree to is paying for her healthcare premium with my hard-earned dollars (via taxes) while she continues to buy the bags, shoes and other luxury items.

 

Nothing in life is free. To posit that a government healthcare system is “free” is intellectually dishonest. Some will not pay for it directly or through taxes. Others will pay for it for everyone through their work and taxes. Then we will all begin to pay for it as we reach the point where healthcare isn’t a matter of choice by the individual, but will be a matter of choice by the state. Who will get healthcare? The needy at first, the wealthy always … and then it will be based on your value to the state. What are you contributing and what will you continue to contribute? What is your “net worth” to the system:.Are you a burden taking more than your share? Are you too old? Are you too slow? Are you too “costly”? Time will tell. I just hope that the story that is told, isn’t one better viewed under horror, fiction or a grim fairy tale.

Author: Lea A. Strickland, MBA CMA CFM CBM GMC

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