The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court and according to some of the cable news talking heads things are not looking good for the Individual Mandate. You know, the part of the law that says that starting in 2014 people have to buy health insurance or pay a fine on their tax return. There is lots of talk of how this or that result will effect the election in November, but really no discussion of the actual alternatives to the Mandate as written.
The reason given by any and all of the defenders of the act, and some non-defenders if you listen to Mitt Romney from 2008, is that without mandatory insurance coverage healthy young people will not get health insurance. Without these healthy people in the insurance pool the companies can't afford to cover people with preexisting conditions. This also causes the uninsured to use emergency rooms and similar services, the cost of which is then passed on to the insured by way of even higher premiums. The idea is to get the so called "free riders," into the insurance system.
No one on the GOP side seems to have any idea of what to do about this problem. They're all very quick to shout "Repeal and replace!" but never offer what the replacement may be. See, the problem they have is, the logical, conservative, Republican response is one that a lot of folks think is a little mean. It was seen at one of the early GOP debates when the crowd cheered for letting an uninsured accident victim die. The only reason that there is a problem is the Federal law that mandates that health care providers help everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. If the GOP is at all true to their conservative colors, they should jump on the repeal of the mandate to treat. Then, our health care system would better fit with the conservative of ideal of self sufficiency and personal responsibility.
I have no idea how many people would die each year from being turned away at the emergency room door, but I'm sure the number would begin to decline after a while as more and more "free riders," realized the error of their way and went ahead and purchased health insurance. The numbers would, of course, also decline as the sickest of the "free riders," died off. This would thus appear to be a win for society and the economy.
Notice, please, that in order to get that win for society someone, in this case those too poor, sick or dumb to get health insurance would, of course, lose. That's the dirty little secret behind any plans for so called free market solutions to complex societal problems. The free market requires that there be losers.
The Liberal and Progressives in American society tend to want to protect the aforesaid too poor, sick or dumb from being losers. They want the government to be a back stop against losing. Conservatives tend to prefer the freedom of the marketplace, without actually telling the too poor, sick or dumb that they will end up as the losers. But be not fooled. That is what will happen because the "markets" demand it.
See, for everyone who buys a share of stock say, at what they think is a good price, someone else sold that share of stock and half the time lost money in the transaction. For every winner in a free market, there's a loser. The real problem for society is as I said; conservatives don't want to mention the losers and liberals want to protect people from losing. Each distorts the markets themselves and both lead to the kind of financial mess that we are slowly working our way out of.
So, keep an eye on how the Obamacare fight comes out and if it gets tossed out, ask your Congressman what he or she wants to replace it with. Good luck!