Friday, September 14, 2012

Mandatory Health Care?

September 2012 - I'm sure many of you have been patiently waiting for me to document my thoughts on the Supreme Court's ruling around mandatory health care.  Those few of you who know me might find it much to your surprise that I'm in favor of having the government mandate we all have health insurance, though I do have some concerns that I'll note at the end.  My mind thinks best with examples so I'd like to toss two out for fodder.

The first example is an insured adult who goes into the hospital for emergency care.  This person has been paying into the system and has unfortunately come to the point where they need to make a large withdrawal.  After the care is all said and done, while they will most likely be responsible for some of the bill, the lion's share will be picked up by their insurance company and the community of folks who have been paying into the plan - including themselves.  This is how things are supposed to work.  They had an unexpected emergency and insurance has helped them out.

The second example is a person who has the same need for emergency care, but no insurance.  Because we're all moral people and here to help all human kind, this person will get the same level of care as the person in our first example.  The difference is that this second person will be unable to pay the bill as they don't have insurance.  If the doctors decide to go after payment, this person would be in no position to pay $10's of thousands of dollars and would have to file bankruptcy - relieving them of all debts.  The doctors, who don't work for free, would have to increase rates and ultimately increase the costs for those folks who have insurance.

What the government is trying to say is, if needed, we will get the care we need - whether we can pay for it or not.  And to ensure the costs are fairly distributed across all parties, let's make sure we're all contributing.  To me, this is fair.

Here is the one concern I have.  There are going to be people who can't afford insurance.  In these cases the government has the right to temporally help them out.  I think this is the right thing to do.  My concern however is that we won't provide the right incentives for this person or family to find a path towards self reliance.  My concern is that we'll be too compromising and end up with a large portion of people abusing government assistance.

Now, I follow a personal philosophy to not complain about problems unless I have a solution.  I don't have a solution to better provide incentives, and so by my own regard, I don't have a right to complain.  However, my hope is that the folks coming up with the health care solutions have given "incentives" some thought and can help define a road to self sufficiency for folks needing assistance.