Monday, September 17, 2007

Mandatory health insurance, good or bad?

Hillary reveled her newest form of healthcare "reform" today. Under her plan everybody would be required to have health insurance and there is an overly complex batch of red tape that goes along with the massive plan.

A Clinton adviser compares the plan's "individual mandate" -- which requires everyone to have health insurance -- to current rules in most states that require all drivers to purchase auto insurance, according to The Associated Press.
There is at least one problem with that comparison as far as I can see. First, you don't have to own a car - so consequently you don't have to buy insurance unless you decide to own a car. You don't really get a choice at living or not, so you don't really have a choice whether or not to get the insurance - it's pretty much a tax on living. For individuals this pretty much serves as a tax on living in the country. For couples and families the strain is extra because there're more people to buy insurance for. Secondly, part of the requirement for car insurance is about protecting those who are injured by your car. Aside from infectious diseases a person's health doesn't hurt another person. Requiring health insurance doesn't really protect other people - well as far as I can tell. And even at that, if i get TB from somebody else it's not their insurance that's going to pay my bills - I am.

I'm not really surprised by this plan, but it does smell horribly bad to me. She may say that this won't raise taxes or that the taxes raised won't be much, but no matter how you slice it it means more money the american public is being force to put out for something that is (or should be) by and large optional.


Nomad said...

I am predisposed to oppose this plan both by instinct and by means of the person who puts it forth, whom I would not trust to babysit my dog.

That being said, I understand what is driving this kind of thinking better than some. Health care is something most of us do not think about until we need it, and health insurance is in the same boat. We think we don't need it until someone finds a tumor, and then suddenly no one will cover us because we are a bad risk. The only simple way out of this is requiring everyone to have it in order to share risk equally. The problem is as we see everywhere else, the universalization of a service cheapens it and makes less efficient use of it, not more. Here in the USA, largely if you need surgery, you get it right away. In other nations, you go on a waiting list and wait... and wait... and wait. And even then, may not get the best care, because a politician needs to decide what level of care you need.

This is a hard case. I do not believe health care is a right, as some do. But I do believe that the current system is broken. I am glad the Dems are pushing this issue - even though I oppose their solutions - because it is going to force all sides to come up with their own alternatives and maybe find one that is acceptable.

"Nick" said...

The real problem is that it will cost a tremendous amount, and pretty much everything the government funds ends up being extremely inefficient and wasteful anyway.

At this point, with what is going on with the economy and in the world, I think plans like this are a bad idea.

shadowmom1 said...

I agree that for the most part, government run things are poorly run. And the "solution" to this is usually to make the program bigger!

I am also afraid that once coverage is mandatory, and available through the government programs, that employers will eliminate or severely limit their coverages. Health insurance is a large part of employee costs and anything a company can do to lower or eliminate it will be tempting to do.

Sean said...

Rudy has some interesting ideas about making health insurance affordable - and thus available - for everyone. I'd like to see a worked out version of what he's talking about to see if he has a better solution than the Dems.

I tend to see health insurance as a precaution we should all take, much like earthquake insurance in so. cal., if you don't get it and something catastrophic happens then it's your own fault for not taking precautions.

The system is broken and needs to be fixed, but I don't like the idea of making it mandatory. That's my biggest gripe with this plan.

quizwedge said...

The biggest problem area for health insurance are for those who own their own small business. It seems to me that one of two solutions need to exist. Either a group of small businesses (whether this be a chamber of commerce or industry) get together and apply for health insurance together to get a better rate. Something like this exists near us, but I'm not sure it applies everything. That and the rates are cheaper even with the dues you need to pay, but they're still not cheap. The other option that I've come up with is the ability to purchase into the state or federal medical system for those who don't qualify. Will it be the best insurance? Maybe not, but it should be affordable. The issue shadowmom brought up about employers dropping benefits may not be an issue. On the one hand, if employers drop benefits, the insurance companies will have to scramble to offer competitive rates for individuals. On the other hand, most Americans are probably more afraid of losing their health benefits than they are their jobs. If a company were to take away health benefits, they may not have the leverage they need to retain some of their key employees.

shadowmom1 said...

Yes. I know many people who stay in low-paying, dead-end jobs because they have good health benefits. (I used to be one of them.)