Why cover the elderly and not the newborn?

Nicholas Kristof raises a really interesting question in today’s New York Times. Here’s a clip.

…Yet although America’s elderly are now cared for, our children are not. A Johns Hopkins study found that hospitalized children who are uninsured are 60 percent more likely to die than those with insurance, presumably because they are less likely to get preventive care and to be taken to the doctor when sick. The study suggested that every year some 1,000 children may die as a consequence of lacking health insurance.

Why is it broadly accepted that the elderly should have universal health care (Medicare), while it’s immensely controversial to seek universal coverage for children? What’s the difference — except that health care for children is far cheaper?…

The answer, I think, is easy. Kids don’t vote.

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  1. Holly
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    To play devils advocate for a moment:
    If we create a scenario in which upon having a baby you can receive free money for food, housing, and health insurance that would make it so affordable that everyone (even people who are not really on solid financial footing) would start having more babies willy nilly (euphemism).

    I feel conflicted on this issue obviously I want all pre existing children to have great healthcare. But I am sensitive to the reality that we keep removing consequences of creating new children. If there is only a benefit and no cost people don’t carefully weigh the decision. And isn’t this a decision that should be carefully weighed?

  2. Kim
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone was suggesting big cash payouts for having babies. We’re just talking about insuring kids. There shouldn’t be any profit in that… Maybe we should pay people for abortions, though.

  3. Money Trail
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    To play Devil’s Advocate to your Devil’s Advocate:
    Maybe we shouldn’t pay for healthcare and housing at all for the elderly. They had their whole lives to save, and set up some sort of retirement fund, but they squandered it, knowing that the government would pick up the tab in the end, right? I mean, by having social security and medicaid, we are enabling them to not work hard and set themselves up for the future, right? Old people will just spend all their dough “willy-nilly” in their middle age and youth. Maybe we should start mandating euthanasia and abortion for all children and elderly, so that all of us 18-65 can live in peace, and not be bothered. Healthy children and elderly? Give me a break! Not with my taxes! Bahhhhh!

  4. Steph
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    What if we feed the elderly to the infants?

  5. Me
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Well, for one thing, newborns are supposed to have parents to take care of them. Sometimes they don’t or they parents are just worthless or whatever. Then, the child goes to an orphanage. Elderly people sometimes don’t have anyone to help them financially. So they go to orphanages, too.

    And Kim, maybe we could pay people NOT to get pregnant. Or just imprison them or fine the hell out of them when they get pregnant. Once you start this social engineering, the logical conclusion is going to be painful for everybody.
    I say “Let’s go all the way.” Wait until infants are born, check them out for cerebral palsy and down syndrome and then kill them after they are born when we are absolutely certain that they are not going to “contribute to society”. Give them an IQ test at a couple years of age, and if they don’t do well, shoot them.
    And if the elderly have no kids who love them enough to take care of them, kill them. In the most humane way possible, of course. That is, pay a doctor to do it.
    Just kidding.
    I think the way to help baby mommas who can’t afford their kids is to help them to sell their breast milk to elderly, especially indigent, people. We could pay them a living wage to squeeze the milk out of them and put the breast milk in a bottle for the homeless. Of course, we could cut out the middle man and just have a bar where the mother and the homeless can get together in a secluded corner, exchange money, and start suckling. Of course, there would be inspections from the health dept. and all that, but it might make money in the end.

  6. Posted November 23, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I’ll send you the bills and pictures of my adorable baby and me to help you feel better about paying them.

    and thanks :)

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