Monday, October 12, 2009

If The Analogy Fits.....

The people who are most vocal about the need for universal health insurance are those who don't have it. Generally they say they don't have it because they "can't afford it". Lots of people buy things they can't afford, and opt not to buy other things they probably could, but bottom line, it's a DECISION. I'm not saying it's an easy decision, but like many financial decisions, it involves allocating your resources and making judgments.

I recently heard a radio talk show caller say she worked two nursing jobs, made pretty good money, but did not have health insurance because it cost $500 a month. She was imploring the President and Congress to "do something". I wanted to say (well actually, I DID myself, while driving) "Uh, you do know that President Obama is talking about making health insurance MANDATORY, right?" This little tidbit is often lost in the discussion, or tossed in with phrases like "if you can't afford it, we'll help you".

I think a lot of people are in for a big surprise. Breathe easy, you're gonna get health insurance, but YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.....BY LAW!!!!

Can the government do that? Make you pay for something that has always been optional?

The closest analogy is motorcycle helmet laws. If you live in a State that has mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, it seems like a no-brainer (ouch, bad play on words). Everyone accepts it, you kind of understand that the government is making a law requiring people to protect themselves, and also not make us all responsible for their stupidity. If you live in a mandatory motorcycle helmet law State, you may not realize that such laws are NOT universal. Check out this map I love the comment on the bottom "When I Ride I Decide... Not the State or the Safety Nannies". Yes, there are people who think this way. People who believe in an individuals right to decide things for themselves. This is very often a Republican trait, and the little map looks like Bush v Kerry or Bush v Gore.

Now we have some irony. The Federal government is going to tell a lot of people they must carry health insurance. And they must pay for it, month after month. I think in other contexts this is called "a TAX". Most middle class people, most Democrats, are fine with taxes on "corporations" and "rich people", but taxes on themselves are harder to swallow. I can't wait for them to start asserting their right to make their own decisions about health insurance.

I know that a logical response to this will be...."Well, if people can't afford it, and the government helps out, then it will end up with employers paying, which is also a tax....the pernicious sort of tax that cripples businesses and job creation". I don't think this can be pawned off on small businesses, the stretched backbone of our economy. I don't think so because businesses make decisions too, and if this becomes the playing field, if it becomes OUR TAX....we're not hiring.

What about the "public option"? I think when most people hear this, they assume this is "the free public coverage that I can opt for". I don't think so. I think it would be something affordable.....that you will be REQUIRED to pay for. Still like it? Getting DMV-like service and having to pay for it? It may end up being a big boon to private health insurers because once people accept having to pay, they will probably splurge for the better service of private insurance.

All this health insurance stuff is all about getting more paying customers. That's always what insurance is about. All the low risk people (ie - young and healthy people) are making a decision to stay out of the system. Now the government is going to make their decision, you are IN because we all need you spread the risk around and make it affordable for everyone.

Damn it, we need more customers. And that is the 800 pound gorilla my friends, the 15 million hard working participants in our economy who do not have legal status, and desperately want it. The ones who are going to ultimately get legalized, and can then participate in our mandatory, you pay for it, health insurance system. They can all make a decision, stay and pay, or leave. They'll stay, and this is what will ultimately make the entire system work. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are surely onto this.

You can write it down.

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