What’s so wrong with requiring health insurance?
The Kansas City Star
Among all the provisions in Obama’s 2010 healthcare bill, the idea of mandated health care coverage seems to have drawn the heaviest fire, and that baffles me.
Nobody likes to be forced to do anything, but the truth is, whether you have health insurance or not, you’re going to receive medical care when you need it. If you don’t have insurance, chances are good you won’t seek medical attention until the situation is dire, and most likely you won’t be able to pay the bulk of your medical bills either.
In the end, those of us who do have insurance pay for it, through higher premiums and medical costs. With nearly 1 in 5 Americans going without health coverage, this adds up.
What’s so bad about asking everybody to pull their share? By requiring that everybody carry insurance, in one form or another, insurance companies can then be expected to provide affordable coverage.
You can’t have one without the other. If insurance companies are forced to provide reasonable rates to all, regardless of age or condition, they have to be assured that everybody will be paying into the “pot” during the course of their lives.
Otherwise, why not simply wait until you get sick, or old, and then get the coverage? If you don’t require that everybody buy in, that’s like running a poker game where nobody has to ante up.
If you’re lucky, you haven’t had to deal with the harshness of the medical system as it’s now structured. It’s easy to take a stance on this, based on your political perspective, until suddenly you are in that other boat. Consider this simple scenario:
Let’s suppose you lose your job, and you’re in your fifties. You’ve paid health insurance your whole working career at various jobs. After being let go you get to continue your healthcare for six months or so, paying the full costs through COBRA payments.
Then the COBRA expires. And you are still out of work, or are doing temp work and have no company-sponsored insurance. And let’s suppose, like many people in their fifties, that you or your wife have some “pre-existing” conditions. Maybe you are diabetic, have asthma, or are simply over-weight. Maybe your wife had breast cancer three years ago. In the actuary tables, just being over fifty is a pre-existing condition.
Who’s going to insure you and your family? Insurance companies aren’t evil, but they are in the business to make money and they don’t want to touch you with a ten foot pole. If you do find something, it may cost you $3,000 a month, or $36,000 a year. Do you have that?
There are problems with the Obama healthcare law, no doubt about that, but requiring Americans to carry health insurance, and insuring that it is affordable, is a simple and sound thing. If there is anybody out there who doesn’t recognize that our current system is a complete mess, I’d like to order what you’re drinking.
Ironically, in 2006 Mitt Romney signed a bill into law in Massachusetts that also mandates insurance coverage. And as a Republican presidential contender he’s being castigated for it, as if this taints his conservative bona-fides.
I know this: Let you or a member of your family get seriously sick and your political views won’t matter much. You won’t care how it happens, or who pays, you’ll simply want the best care money and medical science can provide. Each and every one of us deserves that.
There’s no free lunch. And no free chemo either.