Healthcare reform appeals to emotion, but logic falls flatDec 16th, 2009 | By Zach | Category: Blogs, Opinions
by Zach Becker
All Americans should have access to affordable healthcare and no one should be denied coverage by health insurers because they are sick. It’s a great ideal, but how great an idea is it in reality?
Under the latest Senate bill, all Americans will be required to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty. In exchange, health insurers will not be allowed to deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions or charge those people any more than they do everyone else. Okay, so the idea is to increase the amount of people paying in so insurance companies can afford to take care of the sick people. Nice idea (although I question the constitutionality of forcing people to buy a product they do not want, but that is fodder for another day).
However, the penalty in the Senate bill, according to The Miami Herald, is only $750 per person up to $2,250 per year, per family.
Imagine you are a young, healthy twenty-something working a decent job. Now, you could either pay $150 a month for health insurance with a $1,000 deductible, or you could just pay the $750 penalty at the end of the year. Which do you think most healthy people are going to pick?
Besides, if you do get gravely sick, you can just go buy some coverage and pay the premiums and deductible (also a capped affordable amount) and have the insurance company pick up the rest of the tab for treatment. If you have a serious, chronic disease, this could easily cost the insurer hundreds of thousands a year. Again, you can’t be denied coverage for the pre-existing condition, nor be charged more because of it.
Of course, this goes completely contrary to the whole idea of insurance, which is to, you know, plan ahead and pay into a joint fund in the event that you may get sick in the future. Insurance premiums are going to go through the roof for companies to foot this bill, as most people will not start paying in until they actually get sick. Either that, or insurance companies will just exit out of the market altogether and cut their losses.
Let’s take some of the emotion out of the equation and think of this another way. What if Congress proposed a similar initiative involving car insurance?
Now, insurers cannot charge you more for full coverage than anyone else is charged, even if you have a poor driving record and lots of tickets. Better yet, you can just pay a small government penalty rather than buy insurance.
However, if you get in a serious wreck, you can just go down to the insurance company and they will have no choice but to write you a full coverage policy even though your car is already totaled. You pay a couple grand in deductible and a month of coverage and they pay the price to replace your car. How does that make any sense? Yet that is essentially what we are proposing with healthcare reform. How is that sustainable in the long run?
Affordable healthcare for everyone where you can’t be denied coverage is a great ideal, but implementing it is ultimately unsustainable and thus illogical. We need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a real solution to this problem.