Individual mandate must not be repealed
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 16:04
The individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health care law has turned into such a political firestorm that it’s sometimes hard to see where the forest ends and the trees begin. Its opponents on the far right call it “socialism,” its opponents on the far left call it a big-business giveaway and its supporters in the middle are too busy arguing over severability and the commerce clause to clear up any of these issues.
The mandate has been in the news a lot lately, as it currently sits in front of the Supreme Court awaiting judgment on its future. It is a provision of Obama’s health care law that states that Americans must buy health insurance if they are citizens of this country. This leaves many people scratching their heads and asking: “Why should I be forced to buy health insurance?”
The answer has been wrapped in so much misinformation and political one-upmanship that it can make your head spin. However, below the political firestorm sits a law rooted in common sense and sound economics, and the more people who understand it, the better.
It’s no secret that America has a serious problem with its health care. The World Health Organization has the U.S. listed at 37th in world in overall healthcare, yet according to The Economist, we pay more than twice as much as any other country in medical spending per person.
This is due to a whole list of factors that needed to be fixed. Most of these factors were simply inefficiency and waste, but they were inefficiency and waste quite a few companies were making loads of money off of, at the expense of middle class Americans.
The most egregious of these was that insurance companies were rejecting people simply for having a pre-existing condition. For instance, if I’m born with diabetes or asthma, it would be difficult to get affordable health insurance in this country. I think I would be hard pressed to find a patriotic American out there that believes we should leave our citizens in the streets without health care because they were born with asthma.
However, in order to stop this, everyone has to buy health insurance. As backward as this might sound, it’s not.
Imagine that a health care company cannot legally deny coverage for anyone with a pre-existing condition and I don’t have to buy it until I want. Now imagine I, Bryan Eastman, am interested in getting health insurance. However, if insurance companies must pay for my health care no matter what health issues I have, I’m just going to wait until I’m sick, and then I’m going to buy insurance at the going rates and insist that the companies pay for it.
This, according to the Washington Post, is exactly what happened in Kentucky when they banned this deplorable practice but didn’t have an individual mandate, health care costs skyrocketed. This is why the individual mandate is in the law.
With a mandate to buy insurance, this issue of freeloading is gone, and it enables everyone to buy insurance at a reasonable price. It is a completely free market driven system, which is why presidential hopeful Mitt Romney implemented it in Massachusetts with wild support.
It’s amazing that this law, so simple when explained, was able to be morphed into everything from death panels to a government takeover. This summer, the Supreme Court will reveal its decision on the future of the individual mandate. For the sake of this country, I hope it stands.