The Lifestyles Of The Poor And Uninsured

This is slightly nitpicky, but something Mitt Romney said recently when discussing health insurance and mortality really jumped out at me.

Here’s what he told the Columbus Dispatch: “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

Which is very similar to what he told 60 Minutes: “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care.”There are a lot of obvious problems with both of these statements. For starters, they’re just wrong. They’re also pretty insensitive. More technically, uncompensated care is a costly problem, and no expert thinks emergency room socialism is an appropriate or efficient way to cope with the uninsured.

But what stuck in my craw is that Romney insists on housing these sickly, imagined uninsured people in apartments. I think it’s safe to say Romney isn’t much of an apartment guy. But though it’s probably accurate that homeowners are less likely to be uninsured than renters, it sounds to me like Romney’s caricatured lower class people in his mind and let it color the way he talks about their problems. If you’re uninsured, you can’t possibly have it together enough to own property, and, hey, probably you live in squalor too.

Again, it’s not the biggest deal in the world. It’s definitely not the first time a politician has inadvertently revealed that he’s out of touch with common people. But for reasons I can’t quite explain it made the inaccuracy of his remarks more troublesome to me.