In the past, people who hiked in the wilderness were aware of its dangers and prepared themselves accordingly. If they got in trouble, they relied on themselves to get out of it. But technology changed that.
Personal locator beacons, which send distress signals to government satellites, became available in the early 1980s, but at a price exceeding $1,200. They have been legal for the public to use since 2003, and in the last year the price has fallen to less than $100 for devices that send alerts to a company, which then calls local law enforcement.
OK, so hikers can now avail themselves of emergency services at the touch of a button, which is life-saving for someone who gets seriously injured on a back-country trail.
But the unintended consequence has been that the definition of “emergency” has been dumbed down to what would previously have been called “inconvenience.” One group of hikers in the Grand Canyone hit the panic button because the water they found “tasted salty.” A woman in California hit the panic button because she was afraid of thunderstorms. In these cases, and others, emergency teams had to be dispatched by helicopters at a cost of thousands of dollars.
The same thing happens with socialized health care. If individuals are no longer responsible for their health care costs, things like common colds and hangnails become medical emergencies.
Also, experts say that the existence of emergency locator beacons make inexperienced hikers more willing to take risks than they would have been otherwise. The same will be true when health care is socialized.
And forcing insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions is going to be disastrous to, because now people can sign up for health insurance after they are diagnosed with cancer, or AIDS, and as a result, everyone else’s premiums will have to go up to cover them.
By understanding human nature, and seeing how it plays out vis-a-vis situations like personal locator beacons, it is possible to predict the unintended consequences of well-intentioned policies.