I submit to you that we don’t need a brobdingnagian, pork filled Øbamacare bill to get people to pony up for health insurance; we simply need to “turn on” the self interest and commonsense of the uninsured, you know, the American Way.
The big Democrat talking point since last Sunday is now is all about the individual mandate in Øbamacare being a “penalty for free riders, not a tax”, necessary to get people without insurance into the Øbamacare insurance pool. It isn’t the penalty/tax debate that is the problem, it is the fact that the system encourages free riders.
Let’s examine why there are “free riders” in the first place: because of another act of feel good political “genius”: the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), passed by Congress in 1986, which initially was intended to stop patient dumping (as an aside: tell that to Michelle Obama and the “Urban Health Initiative” she was apparently responsible for conceiving and executing at the University of Chicago Health Center!) It is the root of all healthcare evil.
According to Wikipedia:
“The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is an Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). It requires hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. (emphasis mine) Participating hospitals may only transfer or discharge patients needing emergency treatment under their own informed consent, after stabilization, or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.”
This one act of Congress completely pulled the rug out from under personal responsibility in buying health insurance. On its face, EMTALA doesn’t seem to be a bad thing, but the decision gave no consideration to who was going to pay for this care, so naturally, the costs were spread to those that could pay: the patients with insurance. Hence the $5 aspirins, excessive room charges etc. contributing to patient costs spiraling upward. It completely absolved anyone from having to pay for insurance if they didn’t want to. Why should they? The hospitals are legally required to care for them regardless of whether they have insurance or not. It opened yet another incentive floodgate for illegal aliens, particularly those intent on having anchor babies. Are politicians really so stupid (and this is a rhetorical question) to think that people, particularly illegals, aren’t going to take advantage of this patently stupid law? They shouldn’t be complaining about “free riders” that they created!
Here’s the relatively easy, uncomplicated way to fix it: why not just amend EMTALA to require the admitted patient to maintain complete responsibility for the costs of their care? Should they choose not to, a few very public cases of property seizure or wage garnishment will do more to make people purchase insurance, catastrophic insurance at minimum, than any edict from Congress or the president. Get the IRS out of the equation and let the hospitals slap a form of mechanic’s lien against the non payer’s property. Pelosi says the individual mandate will ensure “personal responsibility” (I can’t believe she uttered those words!). Well so does this, simply, effectively and by the personal actions and decisions of every American citizen. “Personal responsibility” enforced by government edict, is not truly personal responsibility; it is a nanny state. In the proposed situation, individual responsibility and CYA are the same thing. People make better choices for themselves when doing something in their own best interests, and costs will be driven down when people have to shop for their own insurance and companies have to compete for their business. It works for wills, retirement funds, life insurance etc., and it will work here.
Think of it: one simple change instead the “individual mandate” with thousands of pages of regulations, loopholes, hidden taxes and built in favors; fulfilling the Øbamacare promises without the Øbamacare. No know nothing politicians, no bloated bureaucracy, no new taxes, fees and “penalties” (that the Congress will undoubtedly tap into by dumping into the general fund for future vote buying), no manipulation of doctor salaries, no faceless government death panels to contain costs, no paying for the politically correct procedure of the week (sexual reassignment surgery anyone?), no significant changes in current structure. In other words, no unnecessary power shift to the government. People can buy what they need instead of what some faceless (read it: brainless), uncaring, unqualified bureaucrat requires them to buy.
Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and you choose what you pay for.
Naturally, there will be the truly (i.e. without the usual government fraudsters) destitute that cannot afford insurance at any price, and the government already has programs for them, as they should, and they should shrink significantly with proper background checking. Illegal aliens? Until they become legal citizens or are summarily deported, send the bill to their country of origin, or better, simply dock the foreign aid payments their home countries get from us.
The Øbamacare individual mandate is based on the premise that putting everyone in the insurance pool will lower costs, but it doesn’t fix anything; it just usurps the job of shifting the costs to the rest of us, just like the insurance companies did/do, but now adds government enforced enrollment with the added special sauce of money draining bureaucracy, a complete lack of understanding of the health care insurance business and the requisite endless parade of unintelligible regulations, a la the IRS and any other government bureaucracy you have had the misfortune to experience. It is another government road map for inefficiency, fraud, spiraling cost increases and lousy care. Let them fix Medicare, then come to me. Repeal it and institute the reforms described by Sally Pipes and Paul Ryan.
Fix the original, government created problem, rather than putting more government bandages on what is rapidly turning into a government sponsored hemorrhage. Put health insurance decisions back in the hands of the American people pols are always talking about.