There’s so much to say about the healthcare bill recently passed by the Senate I don’t know where to start. But comment I must: so I’ll limit my comments to two. First, you’ve got to start somewhere. Like a 39 year-old man anticipating next year’s physical, we all knew something painful was coming. It was inevitable. Talk of healthcare changes had fully gestated and nothing we could do could stop it. So, it’s out there now–version 1.0. And version one won’t work. For the same reason we have WD-40, not WD-1. Failure will be part of the process. Healthcare reform will be a process not an event. So this is the starting point. The doctor’s technique and hand size may be in question, but the appointment date has arrived. Deal with it America.
Second, and this is what I hate most—healthcare coverage will be mandatory.
Allow me: I hate eminent domain. Literally, it makes me nauseous. There can be no real freedom– no real liberty–if there are not genuine property rights. The recent victory for the borough of Brooklyn to invoke eminent domain to build a stadium makes me want to hurl my pretzels back up into the lap of the sleeping gent in 22E squeezed in next to me as I type.
Mandatory healthcare makes me feel the same way. Tell me why Ican’t elect to pay cash? Why does Congress feel compelled to mandate participation? Where is the libertarian outrage at this element of the legislation?
Readers are certain to barrage me with a pile of statistics about major medical costs; America’s poor rate of savings and the generally poor prospect that many Americans will be able to pay for their healthcare services with cash. (No one seems concerned that many Americans can’t afford a major auto repair bill, even though most Americans could work with the flu but couldn’t do their job if they couldn’t actually get to their job.) By way of example, my health insurance bills over the last year were $3000. Yet my only medical bill was for $330 to have my elbow X-rayed. I wasted $2670. That makes me sick. But what if I self insured? What if I invested that $3000 myself and paid the $330 bill from my investment? (And what if I’d been doing it since I was 22, just out of college?) Let’s not bother with the mathematical answer to that rhetorical question. Suffice it to say, I’d have plenty of money on which I’d be earning interest rather than some faceless insurance company earning interest on my profligate premiums.
Congress has no power to mandate risk aversion. This is the classic example of a few people ruining it for everyone else where a small, but well publicized, marekt segment receives treatment it can’t pay for at the expense of the taxpayers.
Some might counter that auto insurance has been mandatory for years and the mandate for health insurance is no different. I beg to differ. Auto insurance is required so that if I hit you with my car, you are not unduly burdened by my mistake. Auto insurance isn’t for me. Witness that what’s required is liability insurance, not comprehensive auto insurance. If I don’t have healthcare insurance, no one is harmed but me (this presupposes that I still go to the doctor when I’m sick, even though I’m paying cash. If I don’t see the doctor when needed in order to save money then this argument is moot and you should be reading a more enlightened blog right now).
Congress believes it knows what’s best for us. More concerning yet, though, is that we’re letting them get away with it. I can live with big, nearly socialist, government attempts to fix healthcare. I’m optimistic enough to think that the system will correct itself and the problems will be eradicated over time as changes are made. But mandating that we have health insurance smacks of the English monarch mandating that citizens attend the Church of England. This country was founded on a belief that mandatory participation in state sponsored organizations was intolerable. Am I the only one offended by this breach of Congressional powers? Will this provision prove unconstitutional? I may cancel my insurance, shower and stand naked and soaking in a snow bank to help us all find out. (Taking up smoking would probably take too long, don’t you think?)