A California professor published an editorial in The LA Time suggesting that the individual health insurance mandate is really just an economic incentive. Such thinking could be dangerous to consumers who do not consider the more important effect. For the first time in our history, it would be illegal to choose to be without health insurance. The consequences could be far worse than the loss of economic incentive. My response published in the Wall Street Journal is pasted below.
Healthcare reform law: What’s the big deal?
There really is no such thing as an individual health insurance mandate. Let’s stop suggesting otherwise, and start referring to the individual health insurance incentive.
President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 19.…
October 07, 2011|By William D. Leach
Response by Tony Novak, Freedom Benefits, in Wall Street Journal 10/27/2011
By focusing on the micro-economic issues, I think the author misses the major social and financial impact of the individual insurance mandate. The real impact of the mandate is not the tax penalty but rather the social shift that will result by putting an uninsured person on the wrong side of the law. While our current social health care environment is designed to protect "innocent victims of the system" who incur health expenses while uninsured. That attitude will change quickly in 2014 when (and if) the mandate becomes effective. We are likely to see major reductions in charity care in both public and private organizations. Hospitals across the county have already incorporated the effects of this policy change into their financial projections. Public sentiment will also turn unsympathetic to free-riders who ignore their responsibility to purchase even minimal coverage. We already know that the majority of uninsured are middle income individuals who could afford insurance if they chose to make it a priority but do not take care of that responsibility. After 2014 those individuals who ignore the law are setting themselves up for a dangerous denial of medical care – an consequence far more serious than a tax penalty.