But the law doesn’t say the hospital can’t perform what’s cynically called a “wallet biopsy” and send you a bill. Indeed, many states allow hospitals to hire collection agencies, garnish wages and seize assets in pursuit of payment. For this reason, many people stay away until they’re at death’s door.
Others abuse the privilege and stick the rest of us with the bill.
Back in 2006, the politician Bill Clinton calls “Moderate Mitt” recognized the problem. He wrote a Wall Street Journal column objecting to the way deadbeats game the system.
“By law, emergency care cannot be withheld,” he wrote. “Why pay for something you can get free? Of course, while it may be free for them, everyone else ends up paying the bill, either in higher insurance premiums or taxes.”
Writing in Time, Kate Pickert catches Moderate Mitt as recently as 2008, explaining the conservative origins of “Romneycare” in Massachusetts.
“They shouldn’t be allowed just to show up at the hospital and say somebody else should pay for me, so we said no more free riders… We said if you can afford insurance, then either have the insurance or get a health savings account, pay your own way, but no more free ride… I think it’s the conservative approach—to make sure that people who can afford insurance are getting it at their expense, not at the expense of the taxpayers or the government. That, I consider a step towards socialism.”
Ah, but then came “Obamacare,” basically Romneycare with a less expensive per capita price tag. Yesterday’s conservative solution turned into today’s Bolshevism. Severely Conservative Mitt played along.
So what would Romney do if elected?
Who knows? To paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus: You can never encounter the same Mitt Romney twice. Whatever he says today, he’ll say something different tomorrow.
Here’s the question President Obama should be asking: Would you buy a used health insurance policy from this man?
Photo credit: AP/David Goldman
Copyright 2012 The National Memo