She Chose

by Don Boudreaux on February 6, 2010

in Health

Thanks to Andrew Garland for this link, which provides details about Melanie Shouse, the St. Louis woman who once worked for the Obama campaign and who died last week of breast cancer.

Contrary to the implication that I drew in my previous post, Mr. Obama did not know Ms. Shouse, so I was off-base to suggest that perhaps he should have personally paid for her medical care.

Ms. Shouse should have paid for it.

All the available evidence suggests that she could have afforded to do so.  First, — and contrary to what Mr. Obama said — Ms. Shouse did have health-insurance.  It was a catastrophic-coverage policy.  That is, annually her insurance paid nothing until her medical expenses hit $5,000.

So the most that she could have been out of pocket each year is $5,000.

That’s not a small sum of money, but nor is it a sum out of reach for most Americans.

Second, Ms. Shouse and her boyfriend, for 12 years, owned their own small business.  I have no idea how profitable it was, or is, but because they’d been in business for 12 years I infer that it did not leave them anywhere close to destitution.

Ms. Shouse also found time to volunteer to work for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.  This is time that she could have instead spent working at a job that paid her extra income.  But, as reported, she chose to contribute, free of charge, some of her time to a political campaign.

It’s quite possible that the value of the hours that Ms. Shouse contributed to Mr. Obama’s campaign exceeded the cost she would have incurred had she gone to the MD when she discovered a lump in her breast.

Third, Ms. Shouse knew that she had a lump in her breast and she knew that such a thing put her life in severe jeopardy.  Yet she chose not to spend up to a maximum of $5,000 annually (and likely less) to check this malady out with a physician.

Yes, she excused her failure to see a physician because, allegedly, she couldn’t afford it — that is, allegedly she couldn’t afford to pay up to $5,000 annually to save her life!

Her allegation is not believable.  Again, there’s no evidence that she was destitute.  She was wealthy enough to donate that most valuable of commodities — time — to a political campaign.  And her total, out-of-pocket annual expenses had she chosen to visit a physician when she discovered the lump in her breast would likely have been far lower than $5,000.

Fourth, she chose to buy a catastrophic-coverage policy, probably because the higher costs of policies with lower deductibles were not worthwhile for her to pay.  Given her choice, surely she and her boyfriend knew — or ought to have known — that each year there is a good chance that one or the other or both of them will require routine (that is, non-catastrophic) medical care.  Could they not have saved a small sum of money each year to cover this obvious likelihood?

Here’s the bottom line: Ms. Shouse chose not to pay for medical attention when such attention might well have saved her life.  If she was unwilling to pay no more than $5,000 annually to save her own life, why should the rest of us be forced to pay for what she, obviously, judged not to be a worthwhile expense for her herself to incur?

Comments

149 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

Previous post:

Next post: