HCI3 Update From The Field: Imputed or Inherent Values?

Submitted by francois.debrantes@hci3.org on Friday, February 14, 2014 - 01:27

Newtown, CT – February 14, 2014

Imputed values aren't the same as inherent ones, but it seems as if too many are forgetting that distinction – Let's start with the values imputed by some policymakers on those who may now "choose to not work" because they have access to coverage through means other than their employers. We should stop and ponder this for a minute, and realize that the statement is equivalent to saying that the loss of indentured servitude leads to idleness instead of freedom. Wow….I thought that thinking went away at the end of the 19th century, but apparently not. So some clarity about the inherent values of those who work two jobs to pay for health insurance and a safety net for their families might be in order. They're anything but idle or lazy, and with some luck and more hard work, their ability to free themselves from the tyranny of employer-only sponsored health insurance might give them a chance to start their own business and climb the steep social ladder. In a similar but different vein, older workers who have lost their jobs to global competition, and with it their health benefits, have had no choice but to take sometimes backbreaking work so that they could have health insurance until they can enroll in Medicare. Should we impute that they are lazy if they can now make a different choice and retire to take care of an aging spouse, or their children or grandchildren? Should we deny them the dignity of that choice? I don't think so, but by the hue and cry of some over the CBO report, you'd think that the failure to tie employees with the health care benefits chain to their employers will lead the country to its demise. This same line of thought – imputing laziness – led some states to refuse any increase in eligibility for Medicaid. As a result, millions are making too little to qualify for exchange subsidies and too much to enroll in Medicaid. Faced with the reality of this gap, some states like Utah are finally taking corrective action. More have to do the same so that they don't strip away the inherent dignity of the hard-working with crippling health care bills and financial ruin.

What this means to you – None of us has the right to impute values onto others that they don't inherently hold themselves. And yet it happens all the time. Take the narrowing of networks to create products with lower premiums. Some assume that consumers will gladly trade lower premiums for less access, and yet that didn't work the last time it was tried. Are they imputing that freedom of choice finally ranks lower in values than premium savings? If they are, they're in for a surprise. Others assume that most women will prefer to have a quick surgery to deliver their babies irrespective of the potential dangers associated to the procedure. And yet surveys suggest otherwise, and our friends at CPR will be holding an important webinar to go over solutions to reverse the alarming consequences of imputing certain values on women that they don't inherently hold. The consequences can be even more severe when legislators impute values on others, such as "not having a dignified death"….and legalize lethal injections. There's a common thread to all these imputations: you're lazy and we won't let you mooch off the system; you don't know what you want, but we do; and when you get too sick to take care of yourself, we'll "suicide" you. Well to those who would impute values on me, I say: Impute this!