A question I’m surprised I haven’t been asked

“But, I thought you’d support the individual insurance mandate. Don’t you want everyone to buy insurance so they will be prepared for their medical costs? Isn’t that just good planning?”

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4 thoughts on “A question I’m surprised I haven’t been asked

  1. It’s a good thing if you don’t mind the Government stealing what you’ve earned. Anyone voting for it is stealing from me…

    • To play Devil’s Advocate, Pam, I think someone who asked this question might respond to your concern by saying, the individual mandate is intended to cause fewer people to steal from you and make more people pay their own way.

  2. The mandate, on its surface, intends to eliminate free riders. But we need to consider the entirety of the law. I’ll briefly describe several problems with the reasoning for the mandate in this context:

    In general, most members of a society favor the elimination of free riders for the simple reason that the presence of free riders “forces” the others to pay a higher price for whatever public good or service is in question. But consider what would happen to the price of, let’s say broccoli, if the law mandated that everyone buys broccoli for each meal. At least initially, the price of broccoli will rise as demand increases. Now, most people will recognize that this will encourage more people to produce broccoli bringing the price back down. But we also must keep two salient points in mind. First, the mandate has forced scarce resources that could and would have been used for other purposes into the production of broccoli. Second, unlike broccoli producers, many more barriers – the limited pool of people who possess the POTENTIAL to become skilled physicians – exist to ramping up the supply of more health care. Now, the defenders of ObamaCare will quickly argue that the law “protects” consumers by limiting the amount by which insurance companies can increase their premiums. It also directly or indirectly limits (or reduces) that prices that doctors and hospitals can charge for their services. One would have to be naive to suppose that healthcare suppliers will continue to supply the same product when they are paid less. Consumers will ultimately pay in terms of either reduced quality or more limited access. All of the rules, exceptions and guidelines in ObamaCare aimed at ameliorating the bad consequences of a bad law need to understand that bad laws cannot be fixed with more laws. Just like Humpty Dumpty – all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put Humpty together again – and they can’t fix the fundamental problem with ObamaCare.

    Now, if the law truly eliminated free riders, one might find some merit in the mandate. However, the mandate is really just a thinly veiled attempt to disguise a new tax on wealth and productivity. The mandate doesn’t “mandate” that all people pay their actuarially correct premium, but rather that they pay based chiefly on how wealthy, i.e. productive, they are. The mandate isn’t really eliminating free riders, it’s simply allowing the government to select who it wants to get the free ride.

    • As usual, I agree. Your broccoli example reminds me of what happened with housing. While government didn’t mandate buying a home, it distorted the incentives to a similar effect. And, yet people still see that as a failure of the free market.

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