I’ve never written about health insurance before, but a new law here in Massachusetts mandating that all residents carry health insurance has got my biscuits burning.
My home state (Commonwealth, actually) of Massachusetts knows how to stay in the national spotlight. We have a penchant for breeding (typically unsuccessful) presidential candidates and for getting the conservative majority in a dither with our left-learning laws including the right to gay marriage and, most recently, compulsory health insurance.
Nine days out of ten, I’m proud to call Massachusetts home. This includes the times I drive out-of-state. I love to watch people’s faces as I accelerate around two minivans and a Buick to make a yellow light. (I prefer the term “competitive driving” to “aggressive driving”, by the way).
But today is one of those days when I am contemplating packing up for Texas. I hear they need some guys to build a big fence down there.
Why? The Commonwealth’s new health insurance law is telling people like me how to spend my hard-earned money.
In a nutshell, the health insurance law mandates that all employers provide employees with the option to buy health insurance and provides subsidized insurance for the unemployed and self-employed. Failure to comply results in 2007 results in the loss of a bit more than $200 in a state income tax deduction. Failure to carry health insurance in 2008 will be met with stiffer penalties of hundreds of dollars a month.
I haven’t seen Michael Moore’s “Sicko” yet, but I’m well aware of the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and that the problem is blamed on the uninsured. And, for the most part, it’s billed to the uninsured, too, who may pay more than twice an insurance company’s negotiated rate for the same treatment.
So why do I think mandating residents carry health insurance a bad thing?
It strips me of a liberty that is not only vital to my livelihood, but to the national economy: the freedom to choose how I spend my money.
I am not saying it’s smart not to carry health insurance. In fact it’s a very dangerous choice. But that should be my choice.
In fact, according to a Boston Globe article earlier this week, a lot of young people are taking that risky choice, many forgoing health insurance in spite of the law (or ignorance of it).
Don’t be quick to call a young adult stupid or short-sighted for not buying health insurance. Consider the cost, usually at least $300 a month.
And for what? Assuming no traumatic accidents, a healthy young adult might go to the doctor once every two years.
Sure, a car accident or sudden diagnosis could cost $100,000 overnight. But people our age have the old “it won’t happen to me” attitude.
And, as the Globe article notes, without young, healthy people paying into the system, the costs for everybody else are just going to go up.
If Massachusetts wants to reduce health care costs and eliminate the uninsured, there’s only one answer: universal healthcare.
Yes, I’m yelling about my freedom of choice one minute and promoting a socialist idea the next. But universal health care does not have to eliminate any choice, nor does it force anything upon me.
If I’m going to pay for health insurance (including the cost of treating the uninsured) one way or the other. Why not just tax me?
Of course if I want to pay for premium health care services that will always be my choice.
This is, after all, America, and no policy will eliminate the ability of those with means to purchase the highest quality services, including healthcare.
Conversely, our government should not be requiring the least well-off people to pay for something they probably can’t afford.
Yes, everybody should have health insurance. But if the government wants the un-, self-, or underemployed to have health insurance, please, just give it to them.