Thursday, March 25, 2010

Constitutional or Not, Isn't It Wrong to Force Everyone to Buy Private Insurance?

I understand the Republicans are hypocrites and right-wingers are nuts about this healthcare thing. But I find it troubling that so many liberals are mocking the idea that mandating that every American purchase private health care is unconstitutional. I'll be honest. I haven't taken the time to research the legal issues regarding this. Nonetheless, it just bothers me that everyone has to do this or face a penalty.

We all have to buy auto insurance, but we don't all have to own a car. Right, I know, sometimes people really do have practically no choice but to own a car, but my point is simply that there is something less sinister about forcing people to buy auto insurance if they want to drive. Everyone needs health care. I can't imagine anyone who can live there entire life without needing health care of some sort. And anyway, this law doesn't say, "IF YOU WANT TO ACCESS HEALTH CARE ... YOU MUST ..." It says, everyone, EVERYONE, must buy it from a private company - no public option, sorry. Imagine if your town had no public transportation, but everyone was forced to buy a taxi pass. Imagine if your state had no public schools, but everyone was forced to pay tuition to private schools.

Many people are uninsured and that leads to multiple problems and expenses and increases in the cost of healthcare because, for example, people seek care in emergency rooms and then can't pay their bills, or they don't get the care they need because they can't afford it. In order to alleviate some of these problems or blunt the worst of them, we must all buy Anthem, or Kaiser, or Aetna or Blue Shield or some other policy from a company raking in billions in profits, AND if we don't, we get fined?!? What a crappy mandate! Give your money to these corporations, it may help some people and may lower some healthcare costs, we aren't completely sure, but either way, give your money to them or we'll fine you.

That may or may not be constitutional. That may or may not be reform. That is not progressive, so don't call it that.

5 comments:

Hamster said...

I like the proposal that requires people to buy health insurance.

The reason states started requiring people to buy auto insurance is because a lot of uninsured deadbeats were driving around causing accidents then walking away leaving the innocent victim’s insurance paying the medical and repair bills.

The same thing has been happening for years with health insurance.

Lots of people don’t have health insurance . They are gambling that they are healthy and won’t need medical care.

But then they get in a car accident or have cancer or end up in a coma or paralyzed and require hundreds of thousands of dollars of expensive medical care.
What usually happens is that they either claim that they are too poor or they often try to pay what they can. But with the average cost of a day in the hospital totally about $8000 a day it doesn’t take long before they run out of money and then file for bankruptcy. Result…the hospital gets stuck with the unpaid bill.
Then the hospital passes the bill on to those of us who pay for health insurance in the form of higher hospital costs.

Do I like it that everyone has to carry auto insurance? YES!!!

DO I like it that evderyone has to carry health insurance? YES!!

Of course, the other option would be for all those who think people shouldn’t be forced to buy health insurance to start an insurance pool for the uninsured so THEY can pay for the deadbeats .

As for me, I’m for making them buy health insurance so I don’t have to pick up the tab for them

Nick Will said...

The mandate is essentially the same beast as single-payer; hear me out. I prefer single-payer or a hybrid system like every other civil nation in the world including all of Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, even Cuba... But mandating purchase is essentially a tax. With single payer, there would be a tax for it in lieu of private premiums paid under a mandate system (paid by *somebody* and lord knows the super wealthy would find their way out of it).

The U.S. HCR astro-turf "Tea Party" protests (tea parties are for little girls, by the way) still cry "government run health care" and "government takeover" when the plan is exactly NOT that. And in a functioning democracy, the plan SHOULD HAVE BEEN THAT. But...

The administration bet that by not pushing comprehensive and single-payer plans, then they could be immune to serious charges of (and resistance to) "government run" HC. So it mixed a mandate along with several regulatory reforms to tighten the practices (and profits, but we'll see) of insurance companies.

But regulation has its bundle of issues, too, since a future administration or congress can do what Reagan-Bush-Gingrich/Clinton-Bush did, which was DE-regulate, not enforce, and deny funding to agencies responsible for enforcement.

There's no easy way to do and sustain anything. We just have to keep at it step by step. Definitely HCR is a step in the right direction, though nobody should confuse the right direction with the final destination. Activists are vital for helping folks keep that in mind.

Carlos Villarreal said...

I understand that the administration may have made some strategic decisions, I'm just not sure they had very much to do with healthcare. I actually think we could have had a public option with no more resistance from Congress than we saw with this bill. Single payer might have been more difficult, but we've seen presidents in the past, like FDR, push through that sort of sweeping legislation that elevates the public above the private and succeed. And that legacy is still benefiting all of us. Obama had the mandate and could have done it.

If healthcare is so important that everyone is now forced to purchase private insurance, then it is important enough to have a public option or single payer. The right-wing will complain as much either way.

My concern with the "step in the right" direction argument, is that I'm not sure this will really move us in the right direction. Forget all the problems with the bill and my concern over private corporations, it is better that people have insurance than don't if they get sick. However, we see the right fighting this just as hard as they would if it was a genuine public program, and we see Obama and the Democrats calling it historic and squandering so much political capital. It will be much easier to suffer a setback here and take us right back where we started, and how could we ever come close again? After all this was a historic change.

I think it will be far easier for a future administration with a different party in power to get rid of the mandate and even many of the other provisions before they even kick in. Americans won't necessarily complain because they can still buy insurance if they want to. I think it would be much more difficult for a future power structure to get rid of an expanded medicare, or even a public option that has its own government employees and is already covering thousands if not millions of people.

It is impossible to predict, but my fear is that this bill will make real progress more difficult and may even facilitate us going backward in the future.

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