By Gary Ogg
With the first stroke of his pen, President Donald Trump has eliminated the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act that required each person in the United States to carry medical insurance or pay a fine for not doing so. I suppose there is a logic to this. I live a healthy lifestyle, eat right, exercise, and do not smoke or drink. Maybe I shouldn’t be required to have medical insurance. Perhaps it should be my choice.
But why stop here. Shouldn’t this logic also be required to apply elsewhere? I drive safely, follow all the rules of the road, don’t speed, and keep my phone off and my car in good condition. So why should I be required to have auto insurance to operate my vehicle? Shouldn’t this also be my choice?
You know the answer. Insurance is there for your protection and to prevent you from becoming a burden to others. Same thing with homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. You don’t need it until you do. You are not allowed to go buy insurance right after you wreck your car or a tornado flattens your house. You must have it prior to a catastrophe.
So it all comes down to “choice.” I don’t care if you don’t insure your house. But don’t look for sympathy and a handout should it burn down. Same with your car. And the same with your health.
If the Republicans overcome their seven year drought of not laying out a medical insurance plan of their own and actually craft one, it should contain a contractual provision that if you choose not to carry medical insurance, you will bear the full financial responsibility of taking care of yourself if you become ill or injured. There will be no going to the ER for “free” care. It’s not. Unpaid costs are spread out among those who have decided to protect themselves with insurance. Hospitals will be required to levee the full charge master prices for services rendered to those who choose not to carry insurance instead of the lower prices negotiated by insurance companies. There will be no charity handouts either. Republicans claim they are the party of personal responsibility so you should own the decisions you make.
On a similar topic, charter school advocates have been pushing hard to eliminate public schools and privatize the education of children in the same name of “choice”. Space does not permit me to delve into the follies of this effort to apply “free market” solutions to what is especially a public good.
But as in my medical example, let’s carry “choice” and the drive to “privatize” into other important community functions like fire and police protection. In the name of the “free market”, new businesses can open to provide these services cheaper and more effective than the current tax supported public system and you can then choose from many companies promising to protect you. “Cheaper” and “more effective” are some of the drumbeats used by proponents of school choice … so let’s carry this argument into these other areas of public services.
Contracting with private companies for police and fire protection will then be your choice. Should you choose not to (or if your payments are late), you will be able to watch as your house burns down and possessions stolen.
Perhaps you will have a few more dollars in your pocket by choosing not to pay those premiums, taxes, and/or fees by rolling the dice and not protecting yourself against disaster in the first place.
How good are you at gambling?
Gary Ogg is a former educator at resident of Casstown