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Location: New York, New York, United States

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Individual Mandate: Essential and a No-Brainer

One central fact that rarely gets emphasized in the health care debate/shouting match:  most people who lack health insurance very much want to buy it -- desperately, even.  When I lost my job nearly four years ago, health insurance was one of my biggest worries.  Luckily I did manage to get and maintain coverage.  Not everyone is so fortunate.

So the only people being "coerced" into purchasing insurance are the uninsured who want to stay that way.  How many people, really, do you think that could be?  Most of them will be young adults ages 27-35 who haven't thought a lot about it or are willing to roll the dice.  But they are rolling the dice with our money:  what  do you think happens if they are in an auto accident or get appendicitis or pneumonia or cancer?  They will get care...and someone will pay for it.

Nudging a significant number of young, healthy people into the insurance pool was the price the insurance industry asked for getting rid of the odious "pre-existing condition" as a reason for refusing coverage.  (Insurance companies will also now have to get rid of "recission" -- dropping coverage of an insured person when the person gets sick.  Nice, eh?)

So who will be paying the (far too small) $695 tax penalty for refusing to buy insurance?  How many smart people do you think will be in that group?  These folks are pigheaded, reckless, and disgustingly selfish.  They're getting off easy with the $695 penalty.  (And most will, I suspect, buy insurance in the end.)

The mandate was a conservative idea, a Republican idea.  It is about taking individual responsibility.  Somehow this got twisted around into a partisan mud pie fight.  Today's court decision may help more people to understand what this is really about.


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