Vaccinations – Bored at the County Health Clinic
For my university, I needed a meningitis vaccination, and I decided to visit the county health clinic in hopes of a good price. After all, I have no health insurance, and I made less than $10,000 last year. Maybe I could spend 25$ on my vaccination instead of 225$!
It cost 115$ in the end. Not the best, not the worst.
Still, sitting in the lobby gave me plenty of time to people watch and ponder. Some of the shots on the list cost upwards of three hundred dollars, but those who qualify for state assistance have them for 15$ each or 25$ for a full set. That’s a pretty good deal! So I wondered…we’re paying for that as taxpayers, aren’t we?
We are, and I think its okay. What humane person can argue against vaccinating children? I mean, that’s just a flat out good thing. Vaccinations are personally important, and they contribute to a healthy society. So if its socialism, its a useful socialism that supports a common good. I’ll pay that one.
The part which interests me is the borderland of economic choice. That 25$ vaccination? That’s for impoverished people with no healthcare. The guy in front of me in line – probably a fellow college student – had low income but health insurance. It didn’t matter if he had the best insurance in the world or a $50 “God i hope i don’t die” program. He had health insurance, and he was refused the clinic. He gets to go pay over 200$ somewhere else.
In order to make a health care plan appealing to low income people, you have to overcome that issue. Think of it in terms of long term benefits and short term costs.
Long term benefit: Insurance cost control for procedures and accidents, often many times cheaper. Even with a high deductible, this can result in a vastly smaller bill. Also can open up networks of care that require private insurance.
Well, let’s not pretend that’s gonna solve the American health care dilemma, but at least its something.
Short term cost: No access to most emergency indigent care. Sorry, your child’s vaccinations now cost over a thousand dollars. You’re going to have to actually pay for a trip to the emergency room.
Which one is going to be more appealing when you have to choose whether to put your last 50$ into food or health care? Much as with welfare, there are marginal cases where you are actively disincentivized from breeching the gap. (If welfare pays you $300 a month and you’re home to take care of your child, and a job pays you 400$ a month, but costs you child care and gas, that job is untenable regardless of its actual fiscal value.)
This is one of those issues that gets heavily politicized. Welfare queens and all that. Not really what I care about with this post. Go read some sociology books. If I had an answer, I’d tell you. I’ve seen people ride the government system like a gravy train, complete with Playstations and big screen TVs…and I’ve been in the position where the difference between a full price and a half price shot might be what keeps me afloat for another month.
That’s why this is such a hard issue. Because the parasites come with the territory. If you offer welfare, some people WILL use it to never work again on your taxes. If you offer medical care for indigents, some people WILL take a free ER ride instead of getting a Primary Care Provider. The question isn’t in their existence.
The better question is: Does the benefit to society and people who truly need this service outweigh the parasites?