Saturday, March 24, 2012

Innocent until proven guilty goes on trial

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obomacare, goes before the Supreme Court Monday. The meat of the issue is the individual mandate. That is, does the government, under the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution, have the authority to require all citizens to purchase health insurance?

The essence of the government's argument is that people who don't buy insurance will, at some point, avail themselves of medical care and not pay for it. It dismisses the notion that such a person would actually pay through their own assets, borrowing or a health savings account. In other words, it assumes you'll be guilty and assesses a pre-emptive penalty.

This could set dangerous precedents on many fronts. If the government can force you to buy health insurance for the greater good, what else can they force you to buy or not buy? If they can assume your guilt in this case, where else can this line of reasoning be applied? Maybe if doughnuts are not sufficiently high priced, you'll eat too many, get sick and effect my health insurance premium. Best set a minimum price, just to be safe.

The real problem with health care is cost. Mandatory purchase wont bring cost down. Mandating provisions, ie a 60 year old woman's plan must include birth control, doesn't help either. There are market based reforms that can help, and they don't cost anything. Insurance companies could be allowed to compete nationally. Buyers could be allowed to choose what coverage they want included. Out of pocket expenses could be tax deductible, just to name a few.

Of course these measures require less government control of the industry, so are not favored by the current powers that be. I know many proponents of nationalized health care have good intentions. But relinquishing our individual rights and freedoms and undermining the very basis of our legal system will not make us a healthier country.

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