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Should Americans have the 'freedom' to forgo health insurance — and increase costs for everyone?

Here’s an example of the deep polarization in politics today: Many liberals and conservatives apparently do not agree on the meaning of the word “freedom.”

In response to a letter published Wednesday that supported the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act and touted the repeal of the individual insurance mandate as striking a blow for freedom (which, as the writer said, “used to count for something in this country”), several readers offered their own versions of what it means to be free in the context of healthcare.

Both sides in this debate may use the same words, but if these letters to the editor are any indication, they might as well be speaking a different language.

Jeff Gold of Granada Hills says “freedom” is the wrong word:

I fear the letter writer is confusing the term “freedom” for “free ride.”

When millions of Americans exercise their right not to purchase health insurance, where do they go when they get sick? To the emergency room, where much of the cost of their care gets passed along to others.

Forcing me to pay for your healthcare in the name of “freedom” is not only an abuse of that freedom I cherish, but it’s also robbery, which still “counts” for something in America.

At some point you must pay because you will need care. Using freedom to justify not paying for healthcare is, well, sad.

Manhattan Beach resident Alice P. Neuhauser would like the freedom to opt out of other obligations:

One writer talks of the “freedom” restored to people with the proposed GOP healthcare plan.

I guess that is the freedom to die (note the gains at the Social Security Administration, which won’t have to pay benefits to prematurely dead Americans).

There’s the freedom to go bankrupt, because the new, cheaper plans won’t actually cover many treatments or most actual medical needs.

There’s the freedom for leeches to expect the rest of us to pay for their “emergency” care because they didn’t want to take personal responsibility by buying health insurance.

If we are choosing our freedoms, I’ll exempt myself from paying for waste, fraud and abuse in the massive military industrial complex. Then I would have plenty of money to buy health insurance.

Elle Waygh of Valencia warns of the burden of “freedom”:

The writer is correct: Millions of people will exercise their “freedom” and choose not to purchase health insurance next year because the government will no longer force them to.

Los Angeles County hospitals provide low or no-pay treatment for uninsured patients, yet it is the taxpayers who help fund these hospitals. The increasing number of uninsured seeking medical care at these hospitals and clinics may create a larger financial burden for residents in the form of increased taxes to fund services.

However, taxpayers cannot choose to not pay those taxes. Freedom isn’t always “free.”

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