Half the country admits it doesn’t understand Obamacare, and Earle Griffis is among them. Griffis, 46, a self-employed commercial fisherman from Milton, Fla., has no health insurance because he cannot afford the $700-per-month premiums he’s been quoted in the past. He has a heart problem and a painful hernia extending from his navel to his rib cage, but receives no medical care. All the scary stuff he’s heard about Obamacare has left him convinced—inaccurately—that policies on the new health-insurance exchanges would cost him more than $700. “I’m really confused, but the one thing I know is that I can’t afford it,” Griffis told the Kaiser Family Foundation/NBC poll. “I guess they’ll have to haul me to jail.”
His fear and confusion doesn’t speak well of the Obama administration’s efforts to sell its signature reform to the public. But the fight to kill Obamacare is doomed until opponents can come up with a better answer to the question: What about Earle Griffis? What does our society do about him, and the tens of millions like him, who now have no choice but to let heart conditions, diabetes, and even cancer go untreated? There’s no point in pretending that the free market will ever provide health insurance that lower- to middle-income people could afford on their own, especially if they have pre-existing conditions. So if the growth of government is to be resisted at all costs, then the only response to the problem of Earle Griffis is to say: tough. Health care is a commodity, not a right. If people can’t pay for it, that’s no one’s problem but their own. This argument has the virtue of intellectual honesty, but it will not be an easy sell.
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