Humint Events Online: Health Insurance Mandate Outrage?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Health Insurance Mandate Outrage?

I had thought naively that the health care reformers wouldn't force people to buy insurance, as it seems like incredibly bad politics-- to criminalize people who don't pony up a bunch of money for insurance. And this facet of the debate has been strikingly underplayed in the media. To some extent, everyone has been waiting to see how things would play out with the public option and the Medicare buy-in, and certainly the final plan is not known. However, a mandate does indeed seem to be in the works.

I can understand the argument for the mandate-- it is similar to the public option argument-- that by bringing everyone into the pool, insurance costs will be lower, and this needs to be done to get insurance companies to drop various restrictions and eliminating pre-existing conditions that increase their costs.

The mandate MIGHT work to lower costs overall-- or it might not work at all to lower costs! If it is the latter, it will be a disaster as the govt will be forcing people to buy the same limited, expensive insurance that is available now. This would suck for millions of people and it is hard not to see how the backlash against the Dems would be tremendous. So again, the mandate doesn't make political sense.

The only way the mandate could possibly be an acceptable thing is if it made good insurance incredibly cheap, so a family could buy a strong yearly policy for $200 or less. If the mandate results in crappy insurance for say, $800 $3,300 a year, that people are forced to buy-- that would be a bloody outrage and the Dems who pushed this deserve to be booted out of govt. And it's hard to see how the Repubs wouldn't easily sweep back into power-- but it's also hard to see how the Dems couldn't see this either and try to stop it. So, it's still unclear to me what is going on and what will happen with health care reform.

Frankly, I wonder if health care reform will basically die. As it is, it is watered down so much, and forcing people to buy insurance is so problematic, I don't see how it can pass-- because who on Congress really wants it except for maybe some disgusting "centrists"? Maybe Obama wants it, to say he's accomplished something, but so far he's been absolutely pathetic on this health care reform process (and about most things, sadly).

UPDATE: I see the individual mandate is being deferred until 2015. This does make more political sense, but it is still very unclear what kind of insurance mandate will be forced on Americans. Lots can happen in five years.

UPDATE 2: Glenn Greenwald:

The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry -- regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies). In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry -- tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations -- and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model. It's undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can't get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well). If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor. But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign.

As I've noted before, this growing opposition to corporatism -- to the virtually absolute domination of our political process by large corporations -- is one of the many issues that transcend the trite left/right drama endlessly used as a distraction. The anger among both the left and right towards the bank bailout, and towards lobbyist influence in general, illustrates that.


Blogger nickname said...

The INformed public as well as the
UNinformed public will support
making it illegal to not buy health insurance from a private company.

Don't YOU support mandated auto insurance?

2:52 PM  
Blogger spooked said...

That wasn't my point. IMO, the mandate is acceptable if the product is reasonably affordable and worthwhile. I worry it will be onerous for some people, and I wonder why the Dems would support it since it wouldn't be popular.

4:12 PM  
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