Schaeffer: Progressives, stop torturing language


accessCould we puhleeease stop abusing common English for political purposes?  This week I read another opinion item by a progressive carrying on about a number of their favorite priorities, like equality and women’s rights, and ‘increasing access to health care.’
If you look up the definition of access, you find this:


[ak-ses]  noun

1.  the ability, right, or permission to approach, enter, speak with, or use; admittance: They have access to the files.
2.  the state or quality of being approachable: The house was difficult to access.

3.  a way or means of approach: The only access to the house was a rough dirt road.

Which affirms a long held view that everyone has ‘access’ to health care.  The issue is not ‘access,’ but how the care is paid for.  Anyone can walk into the same Doctor’s office I use; ‘access’ is not constrained.  And as I was reminded on a recent trip to the ER with my wife, everyone has access to the services provided there.

To emphasize the point once more, the discussion is not about ‘access to health care.’  The policy debate is about whether a person pays for their own health care, or someone else does.  So from now on, wouldn’t it be more honest if the progressives lobbied for ‘increasing how much someone else pays for your health care,’ instead of hiding behind ‘increasing access?’  At least then we could ascribe a degree of honesty to their pleadings.

While we’re at it, let’s stop with the deceit that the ‘15% of Americans who are uninsured’ and a similar portion of ‘uninsured’ Mainers are desperate souls on the edge of survival who can only be saved with massive expansion of taxpayer funded health care.  It’s widely known that a major portion of this segment consists of those who willingly choose to ‘self-insure’ because it is more cost effective, and those between jobs that offer coverage via the employer.

About that term ‘self-insured:’ let’s stop treating health care as a binary situation.  Meaning either you have insurance, or you are stranded without ‘access’ to any health care at all.  This is simply untrue.  Insurance plans are all based on individual risk vs. shared risk.  For example, if you accept a higher deductible on your auto policy, your premiums decrease.

Let’s consider a young family.  Suppose the ‘lowest cost’ health care policy available to them has premiums costing $7,000 a year and a family deductible of $5,000, meaning it costs them at least $12,000 to see the first benefit dollar from their policy. If they can’t afford this plan, single payer advocates would lump them into the category of ‘not having access to health care,’ yet they could well be able to afford $8,000 on such care.  So they can pay for a substantial amount of health care, even though they can’t afford the coverage available to them.

What’s the answer?  It would seem to be a completely different model of coverage, where the patient has direct involvement, rather than being a detached third party in health care transactions.  HSA’s and HRA’s are a big part of this discussion, but single payer advocates don’t want to hear a word about such individually driven systems.

Why?  Because their ideology trumps the health issue; they prioritize government control above effectiveness of the system. To them, it’s not about your ‘access,’ it’s about who controls it.

Pem Schaeffer is a retired systems engineer and business development leader. He blogs at and can be contacted at

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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