Should the Government Require People to Buy Health Insurance?

Here in Massachusetts it is already law, yes, you must buy health insurance.  On Massachusetts tax forms you must certify that you have health insurance and provide proof.  If you do not, there is a penalty you must pay.  But is this a good thing?  Is it a legal thing under our Constitution?  Those are the very questions the US Supreme Judicial Court is considering right now.

Republican Governor Mitt Romney was responsible for bringing this law into effect in Massachusetts.  The Democrats since Pres. Obama has been in office have made it their priority to get health care to everyone while the Republicans have been four square against it.  But should the U.S. have a law that requires all American buy health insurance?  That is the question before all of us right now, and it seems a majority of Americans are against this requirement as it now stands.

I have heard that upwards to 40% of all Americans are not covered by health insurance.  But when they get sick, hospitals are required to treat them.  Doctors cannot turn a patient away for lack of health insurance.  Even more, hospitals and doctors supply medication and other items generally covered by health insurance.  These costs are picked up by those of us who have health insurance.

I have always had health insurance.  Even though I am retired I still have health insurance as a part of my retirement plan.  I do, however, still have to pay 50% of the premium but I consider that insignificant when I think of what life would be like without health insurance.  Actually, I do not want to have to think about such a thing but millions of American do have to think of exactly that.  Some, upon retiring, lose company supplied health insurance.  I suspect such people put off retirement for as long as possible.

This particular portion of President Obama’s health care plan is tricky.  It is reasonable for us to expect the 25-year-old who is employed by a company that supplies health insurance to buy it, but he has no requirement to do so.  That means when he is sick or injured he has a right to “free” care at a hospital.  But his bill is paid by those of us who have insurance in our premiums.  But should we require self-employed people and small companies to buy health insurance?  Do we do this to make it fair for the rest of us who do buy insurance and pay the sometimes pricey premiums?

Well, I cannot in good conscience, my Democrat Party leanings not-withstanding, go along with a law that requires someone to buy insurance.  I think it goes against the basics of a free society.  I do believe, however, that affordable healthcare in the form of insurance, is a right the every person in a free society should have.  Right now that is not true.  Regardless, it is my belief that the US SJC is going to declare this part of the health care bill as being unconstitutional, and it should be.

This should bring into focus for the Republican party the absolute necessity for a comprehensive health care plan that covers all Americans without penalizing any portion of Americans as is now true.  Maybe that means hospitals and doctors can turn away anyone who does not have insurance?  That would at least be fair.  Or maybe it means if you are on some sort of public assistance you must be given free care while everyone else must pay?  You see, that is the problem!  How do you resolve getting health care to those currently not covered by insurance without penalizing those who are covered.  The Democrats solution of throwing a lot of money at it or requiring everyone to get health insurance is not the solution.  But the Republican idea of ignoring it altogether, and offering no solution what-so-ever is equally as unacceptable.

We are supposed to be a very intelligent nation.  We are, in fact the richest nation in the world.  But then we are ranked only 37th in healthcare by the World Health Organization.  What this says is that the Democrats have the right idea but the wrong solution and the Republicans need to join the Democrats in finding a solution to this problem even as they, properly, object to the law as it is.  The only moral high ground here is that which includes a solution to this long-standing problem.  Nothing short of that is acceptable.



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