Thursday, July 02, 2009

Do What?

I don’t know just how I feel about the current health care debates; but, there’s a proposal out there that I just don’t understand.

As proposed by some in the Senate, if you don’t buy health insurance, you can be fined, up to a $1,000 for an individual, more for a family.

“In a revamped health care system envisioned by lawmakers, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face penalties.

Called 'shared responsibility payments,' the fines would be set at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation.”

NYTimes.com

The car insurance analogy is false. Mandatory auto insurance, to my knowledge, is only for liability coverage – a reasonable social requirement: I shouldn’t be able to skate if I hurt someone or damage their property. But, if I don’t want to pay for comprehensive or med-pay or other non-liability coverages, so be it, I’m on the hook for my damages in the event of an accident, unless I can collect from the other guy.

As it stands now, if you don’t buy health insurance and you have money, you pay for your health care. If you don’t have money, you get welfare or medi-one or the other. So, if under the new plan, I don’t buy health insurance, I pay for my care and pay a fine. Why?

It’s a tax on socially risky people, people who don’t subscribe to the plan. They can pay for the cost of their risky behavior, without burdening others; but, they aren’t a good example – they’re going their own way, we can’t have that. So let’s encourage them to become part of the crowd and if that doesn’t work, let’s collect some extra money to give to the other people.

This is the worst kind of socialism: we are going to make you do what we think is the right thing, even though there’s no economic cost to us if you don’t.

5 comments:

Life Hiker said...

I'm just guessing, but I think the idea is that the opt-outer's have to pay a kind of bad debt insurance.

Even if you don't have health insurance (you opt out), you will still get care if you have an accident or get really sick. The care may be very, very costly - far more costly than the opt-outer's would be able to repay.

The up front penalty, therefore, is more like the premium for insurance that repays the medical system for costs never repaid by those who opt out but have no money.

We will never get to the point where hospital doors are closed to those who don't have an insurance card, so maybe this penalty makes sense.

Dave said...

I understand what you're saying; but, the "fine" is designed to coerce. As the system stands, if I don't have insurance, I go bankrupt if I get really sick. Under the new plan, I pay a fine each year until I get really sick, then I go bankrupt, and then I get care. The only difference is the normative "fine."

Lifehiker said...

I agree with you.

As it stands, society pays 100% of the medical costs you can't cover because you have no insurance and you're bankrupt.

Under the penalty (fine) program, the government gets the fine proceeds in advance, thereby reducing the cost to society for covering the uninsured.

It would be impossible to hold the opt-outer's to a "no care without pay" program. That's the problem. Some of the healthy people who don't want to purchase health insurance bet wrong and perhaps even need a lifetime of care after, say, wrecking their car. Should that entire group get off the hook?

Dr Jenn said...

as far as medicaid being for the poor... When I seperated employment from the prision I "applid" for assistance and was denied because I have income. My income being child support and that totaled less than 1,000 a month. My kids however were covered for medicaid under the no child left behind act. Which was good because they decided to be sick for a few months straight! LOL. But I just wanted to let you know that 10,000 a year is considered above the poverty threshold for medicaid before Obama.

The Curmudgeon said...

Life-Hiker makes interesting points.

The problem is there is no proposal we can look at. On some sites I've seen rumors that anyone wishing to maintain private insurance will have to pay a $1,000 fine in addition to the private premium. But who knows?

The one thing I do know is that few -- if any -- of the members of Congress will have read more than a summary of the bill they eventually enact.

And that's a crime.