During a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register on Friday, Rick Santorum said that people who can’t afford health care should stop whining about the high costs of medical treatments and medications and spend less on non essentials. Answering a question about the uninsured, Santorum explained that health care, like a car, is a luxury resource that is rationed by society and recalled the story of a woman who said she was spending $200 a month on life-saving prescriptions. Santorum told her to stop complaining and instead lower her cable and cell phone bills:
SANTORUM: All the other necessities of life, we allow people to have varying degrees of creature comforts, if you will. Why? Because we are people who ration our resources based upon what’s important to us and health care has to be one of those things, which is in the mix of things we make decisions about as to what type of, what kind of money we want to allocate to that.
I had a woman the other day who came up and complained to me that she has to pay $200 a month for her prescriptions…I said, in other words, this $200 a month keeps you alive, she goes yes. I said, and you’re complaining that you’re paying $200 a month and it keeps you alive? What’s your cable bill? I mean, what’s your cell phone bill? Because she had a cell phone. And how can you say that you complain that you have $200 to keep you alive and that’s a problem? No, that’s a blessing!
But for the majority of Americans, crawling out of medical debt isn’t as simple as changing to a cheaper phone plan. According to a 2007 study, more than 60 percent of all bankruptcies are “actually capsized by medical bills” and most bankruptcy filers are “middle-class, well-educated homeowners” who can probably control their texting addictions. A more recent study published this year found that bankruptcy rates are particularly high among cancer patients, but “much lower for people age 65 and up, who would be eligible for Medicare.”