Shattering The Lens

A Thoughtful Look Into Things

Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

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Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

Why? Why do these topics continue to get worse and worse? I thought the new generations of kids were supposed to be getting dumber, not the adults! AGH! I mean, really though, who’s voting for these topics? How do they win? Who writes them? There is clearly some shady conspiracy going on to turn debate into a vacuum of nonsense. Ugh, I guess we just have to deal with it. So let’s do it.

Definitions

1. U.S. Government - We all know what the U.S. government is. People will inevitably try to make a distinction between the state and national government. In reality, it’s actually irrelevant. The resolution is asking you to argue the principle of the thing, not for a specific level of government.

2. Require - When the government requires its citizens to do something, that means it imposes some sort of punishment for not doing such thing. The content of this punishment is irrelevant to the resolution. You can assume that the government will not execute people for not having healthcare, and don’t let people try to get abusive with this. Again, the resolution is asking you to talk about the principle of requiring people to have health insurance rather than the actual content of what that would look like.

3. Citizens – We all also know what a citizen is. Being a citizen entails a legal status, not just that a person lives in the U.S. The reason the resolution uses this word is so that the Con doesn’t have to support illegal immigrants being required to have health insurance.

4. Health Insurance - Health insurance refers to the concept of a person paying a certain amount into a pool, and the pool pays costs for medical care and/or treatment if you should need it. Again, the form this takes does not matter. This resolution is not about the government providing universal healthcare. It’s about the government punishing people who do not have health insurance, like they do with car insurance.

Potential Positions

Con

1. Health Insurance is Good – It’s a fact that people who have health insurance end up better off. If there preventive examinations and consultations are paid for, people are more like to go in and get checked up. Requiring people to have health insurance will improve the overall health of the country. The long term result is that less and less people will actually have health associated costs, so healthcare spending will decrease.

2. A Health Insurance Requirement Stops People From Being Stupid – There is a large portion of the population that doesn’t get health insurance for reasons other than not being able to afford it. These people are jeopardizing their lives. If the situation were ever to arise that they would need medical care, they would not be able to get it because of an inability to pay. There’s a reason the government requires people to have auto insurance, and the reason reason holds true for health insurance as well.

Pro

1. The Requirement Won’t Have Any Significant Impact – People who don’t have health insurance will not be suddenly motivated to get it because of some government requirement. They will still abuse the emergency care system as they always have. A requirement doesn’t suddenly make health insurance affordable, nor does it motivate people to pay for something they don’t feel they need.

2. Individual Rights – Every person has a right not to have health insurance. By not getting health insurance, I am only endangering my life and nobody else’s. Therefore, I should have the ability to forego health insurance if I should choose. It’s not the government’s place to tell me how to manage my life.

I hope this helps you get started.

10 Comments»

  Lydia Hoeppener wrote @

In reference to you definition of United States Government there should be a distinction between state and federal governments made within the cases, because if the con side is arguing for a state run mandated healthcare system there must be clarifications made to understand the round.

In reference to your definition require, the punishment aspect of a government requiring healthcare is crucial to a round. Why should the government punish an individual for their inability to provide themselves healthcare. Just because people might not be executed for lack of healthcare does not mean this is not a legitimate issue. Just as with the government mandating education and initiating compulsory attendance laws, would those who did not abide by the rules by punished, even if the health insurance is too expensive, not readily available, or just to low quality (problems that are indicative of the nationally run programs- such as education).

The use of the word citizen can be helpful to the con case because, just as the Supreme Court ruled in its decision on Obamacare, healthcare can be considered a tax, and so it is well within the rights of the federal government to have a healthcare mandate because it is protecting the citizenry’s general welfare (Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution). So if you bring out the definition of citizen as someone who deserves protection from the government and must pay taxes to receive that protection that distinction will help protect the con case against any legal arguments about the government not being able to mandate healthcare.

In reference to your definition of Healthcare, the distinction between the different types of healthcare is crucial. The Con side can argue for a single payer system, Universal Healthcare (which would be difficult to argue, but I believe is under the scope of the resolution), or just an outright mandate for the purchase of private health insurance (or one of many other varieties). Also, in order for the round to move quickly having a definition of the basic services Health Care should provide would be helpful. The distinction that must be clearly made is weither it is within the rights of the government to force its citizens to purchase healthcare, and the distinct between the different systems is completely necessary to establish within a round.

In reference to your first con contention: there must be a line drawn here back to the distinction between the different types of healthcare. If you are advocating for Universal Healthcare then you have to be aware of the problems and inherent difficulties in a government run healthcare system (long waits, up to months to see specialists, overcrowding, mediocre care, decreased pay to hospital staff results in lower quality care, etc…) If you are referring to just a government mandate then you must be ready to respond to the obvious criticism that many people will not be able to afford the insurance, and instead of the intended positive aspect of everyone having high quality healthcare, you will be attacked because they will only be able to afford low quality insurance and more prone to scams. This mandate while meant to help the lower classes could quickly turn against the lower classes.

In reference to your second con contention: the government already provides the lower class with a medical safety net programs (Medicaid), so if you have too low of an income to afford insurance you can join the government’s programs. And, just as you point out in your second contention of the aff, people have the right to make what you define as “stupid” decisions. They could choose the wrong provider, choose the wrong coverage, or just make the wrong choices. And universal healthcare or a single payer system would take away freedom of choice.

In reference to your first aff contention: “People who don’t have health insurance will not be suddenly motivated to get it because of some government requirement.” This is a completely illogical statement. If you are forced to do something then you must do it. A mandate is compulsory, not optional. There are always going to be law breakers, but our country makes laws that are followed by the majority of the people. This kind of logic can be used to say, “Why make murder illegal when people are still going to murder anyway?” As you referred to in you definition of required, there will be punishments for those who do not follow the guidelines.

In reference to your second aff contention: This argument is going to be the backbone of most of the aff case. But the problem with the way this argument is framed it that it ignores the social contract and the rights of the government to impose and protect your life. The government mandates schooling in the 20th century because it became necessary for the changing world’s economy. The government deemed it useful and productive to spend money on protecting and serving the population. The government provides roads, police, ER services, armies to protect the borders, and law makers to enforce the laws and protect the rights of the citizens. As I referred to above, the Supreme Court ruled the healthcare mandate (which Obamacare initiated) Constructional because it is a tax, which the government has the right to collect under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. I think this is a good argument, but it must be put in a context of governmental bureaucracy. Try referring to the dissenting judges in the Obamacare ruling.

  Ace wrote @

Hi Lydia,

Thanks for your response. Let me address some of the issues you bring up.

As far as the level of government, can you think of an argument with applies to one level of government and not the other? It’s either both levels of government or neither. The principle behind the requirement does not change regardless of how it’s carried out.

In reference to the definition of require, you haven’t really made any point. The point of the resolution is that the government punishes people who don’t get health insurance. We can reasonably assume that the government will not be executing people. Quibbling over the form of the punishment is useless and draws students away from the actual argument.

There is a legal definition of citizen, only one. Certain legal requirements must be met for a person to be a citizen of the U.S. Defining citizen outside of that is simply wrong. And yes, citizens pay taxes; we know that. There’s no reason to waste time pointing it out.

Why does the type of system matter? Does it change whether or not the government should require health insurance? Suppose we had an ideal system with no shortcomings, why does that change the principle of whether or not people should be required to fall into that system? Your points strictly focus on the status quo. There’s no reason the U.S. government has to fall into the problems of other governments. And even if it did, the argument behind the requirement still doesn’t change. The round won’t move more quickly if students waste time defining the different insurance system. It will slow the round down and draw attention away from the real issue at hand.

Before I talk about the specific points, I want to point out that what I have written are not contentions. They are frameworks which outline the underlying basis of a case. One of the critical mistakes students make in PF is to have a number of separate contentions that don’t work together to make any sort of point. This significantly weakens a case.

Talking about the first framework, please read what you wrote back to yourself. You essentially say, if you’re arguing for this system, here are the problems, and if you’re arguing for the other system, here are the problems. I’m not actually arguing for a particular system, so your points have no impact because you don’t address the argument. The point I’m making is that people who have health insurance have better health outcomes, and that is a fact. Therefore, logically speaking, you have to either prove that health insurance doesn’t lead to better health outcomes or that there is a more important negative consequence. You haven’t done that, so the point still stands. This is exactly what I was talking about earlier. People who put undue focus on the definitions don’t really argue the resolution. They just dance around it. The trouble is that the people who actually argue the resolution win more often than not.

On the second Con framework, when did I ever talk about poor people? My point refers strictly to stupid people, the same people who wouldn’t purchase car insurance if given the choice. And yes, one of my Pro frameworks clashes with one of my Con frameworks. Clash is the point of debate.

On the first Pro framework, once again you didn’t actually address the complete framework argument. The point I actually made is that a health insurance requirement will not address the problem of people not getting health insurance. People who can’t afford it will still abuse emergency care. People who don’t want it will still abuse emergency care, just as they do now. The only time you’re going to punish people for not having insurance is when they try to get health care, and you find out they don’t have insurance. People who don’t want insurance now or who can’t afford it just get emergency care and don’t pay for it. An insurance requirement will not change that.

Referring to the second Pro framework, you once again don’t address my point. The argument does not ignore any government rights, but rather says that individual rights are more important. The government does not in fact have the right to decide what to do with my life. As far as the Supreme Court decision, the court also ruled at one time that segregation in school was constitutional. Just because the court makes a decision, it doesn’t mean that the decision is right or correct. This is why precedents get overturned.

Thanks again for responding Lydia. I appreciate the commentary. I would contend, however, that a lot of the points you make don’t have any impact and that you focus far too much on the definitions. These are recurring problems in the current state of high school debate. Arguing over definitions does not allow debates to progress and does not improve the quality of them. Arguing minor points of pragmatism like the type of health insurance system only draws students away from the real arguments at hand.

  Mindy wrote @

What about the impacts of the Affordable Care Act? My teams and I have been discussing how paradigms have now changed since the passing of this new law. Certainly changes the way we think about requiring health insurance.

  Ace wrote @

Hi Mindy,

Why does it change the way you think about requiring health insurance? It doesn’t really change anything about the principle of the matter. When people argue these resolutions, they often make the mistake of thinking that the law cannot change. If the U.S. decides to require healthcare, it would have to put in the laws to enact that requirement. All laws in conflict would necessarily be eliminated.

I advise you to actually debate the merits of requiring or not requiring health insurance rather than focusing on the practical implications of it. There is no reason that the U.S. cannot implement a legal system to support either side.

  John S. wrote @

How would you argue the whole contention on mandated health insurance undermines the 1st amendment of the constitution?

  Ace wrote @

Hi John,

My first question is how it undermines the 1st amendment. The amendment confers the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and petition. Why does mandated healthcare violate any of these?

Second, I’d ask what the impact is. So what if it undermines the first amendment? Why does that mean that the U.S. shouldn’t mandate health insurance? A number of national laws undermine the 10th amendment, but we still have them. You are prohibited from yelling “fire” in a cinema. That also undermines the first amendment, but the law still exists because we recognize its value.

My advice to you is to not accept arguments when they are made. Question them and their most fundamental levels. Most of the time, your opponent will not actually have proven anything, and you should take the opportunity to point it out. Just because your opponent says something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

  John S. wrote @

Well there are clear cut examples of certain religious groups who do not believe in healthcare, instead choosing to take on more traditional approaches towards treatment, and as such shouldn’t rules be created to not affect religion?

  Ace wrote @

You are correct that certain religions do not believe in receiving modern medical treatment. However, the resolution is not asking you to force people to get treatment, just to get health insurance.

  Michael wrote @

How can we be certain this resolution is referring to an individual mandate; in a single-payer system, is having health insurance not a function of being a citizen of the government?

How can we be certain it refers to any system in particular?

  Ace wrote @

It doesn’t refer to any system in particular. This is why none of the frameworks I provide talk about a particular system.


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