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05/28/2009

“Hidden Health Taxes” Neither Ethical Nor Sustainable

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It seems as though we don’t have much choice when it comes to health care. Either we are going to pay what the most recent research is calling a “hidden health tax” of something on the order of $1,017 per year to cover the health care costs of the uninsured, at least that’s what Families USA is telling us (says WSJ) or we can pony up the money through tacking on an additional tax on the goods we routinely buy through something like a Value Added Tax (VAT) like they do in Europe and ensure healthcare for all–no matter what.

It would seem to me that in a democracy we would be better off having an open dialogue about the kinds of taxes we want to pay in order to get the kind of healthcare we want rather than being forced against our will to pay a hidden tax for those who must receive care anyway in emergency rooms because no one will be denied care. De facto, we have universal healthcare and all Americans pay for it via a certain kind of tax–we just do it blindly.

It would seem to me that the time has come for us to open our eyes and to stop paying “hidden taxes” for the absolute worst type of health care possible and to guarantee health for all. Whether we institute some kind of value added tax or some other way of paying for universal access to health care is another matter, but the bottom line is that silently shifting the costs of care for the uninsured to those who can pay is neither ethical nor sustainable. What it will take to make it end is the only remaining question.

Summer Johnson, PhD

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