The Commonwealth Fund recently released the results of their ongoing Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey. The highlight was that 91% of those surveyed believe that the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction. Of course, there is variation in the response to more specific items. For example, 86% support the health insurance exchanges, 84% support the individual mandate, and 82% support the expansion of Medicaid. At the other end of the spectrum, 38% think that opening up the insurance market across state lines is a good idea, and 22% think health savings accounts would move us in the right direction.
Now, it could be that all of the health care opinion leaders are biased Obamosocialists. That would explain why they like it so much. Conversely, it could be because they are leaders in the industry of health care and health policy, and actually know what they are talking about. Of course, either one of these two scenarios could be true, and it would still sharply distinguish the group surveyed from the majority of the American public.
In our democracy, however, popularity wins, and the views of these “leaders” are not entirely popular. So, I’d like to offer a modest proposal for the people to consider.
You do not like the mandate for all individuals to purchase insurance. Therefore, we will eliminate that provision. However, you do like the ban on insurance companies denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, so we’ll keep that in. You don’t like the sound of state-run insurance exchanges, which sounds too “governmenty,” but you do like competition, so we’ll hire a private firm to operate a website called “Healthline.com” where you name your own price for health care. William Shatner is already taken, so Levar Burton will be the spokesman for the new site. Lastly, you don’t like government involvement in your personal life, which includes health care. So, we’ll eliminate all aspects of that. There will be no more Medicaid program for the low income, no more Medicare program for the elderly or disabled, no more Veterans Administration, no more subsidizing of employer-sponsored insurance by making your premiums tax-exempt, and most certainly no laws mandating treatment of emergencies or active labor at the hospital if you aren’t insured.
Under the new proposal, government will save literally hundreds of billions of dollars annually. You will stop having certain taxes deducted from your paycheck, but you will also start having more of your paycheck taxed. You will have the right to decide whether or not to purchase coverage for yourself and your family. You will have the right to shop around for the best price for health care services. You will also have the responsibility to pay for any and all services you use. You will not have the right to receive health care services, even in case of emergency, unless you have insurance or the financial resources to pay the full cost of services up front.
You wanted so badly to be on your own, and now you will be. Will more people go bankrupt because of medical bills? Sure. Will the population of this country grow sicker? Without question. Will more people die under the proposed system? Absolutely. But it is the pinnacle of personal responsibility.