For starters, I am using the terms ‘Obamacare’ and ‘young invincibles’ only so that the average reader can immediately understand the subject matter. Both represent political speech rather than plain, honest speech, and I am a proponent of the latter and a critic of the former. It is the widespread mimicking of political speech, particularly Republican talking points, that has led many well meaning liberals to support the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate (since it’s all referred to under the term ‘Obamacare’), which was originally a Republican contribution to this mess of bureaucracy and corporate giveaways we refer to as the American health care system.
The mandate, in particular, is an egregious violation of consumer rights. Until health insurance is regarded as a human right in this country (which it clearly is not or everyone would be insured like in most of the developed world), it is in effect a product or service. In a typical capitalist economy, a consumer has the right to decide which products and services are useful to him or her and which are not. The consumer is generally not forced by fear of a tax penalty to buy a substandard product or service — this would be strange in any type of economy — but an exception is made in favor of one of the most substandard services of all.
I am not being hyperbolic: I spent some time looking through the fine print, and I discovered that the cheapest plan available to me as a 28-year-old professional who is ineligible for medicaid or a government subsidy is a ‘catastrophic’ plan that costs about $1,300 per year in premiums and an additional $6,600 deductible (I hate these somewhat Orwellian health care terms that try to make excessive and complicated types of payment sound less taxing) before it covers anything at all. In simple terms, this means that in exchange for CareFirst paying one cent in coverage, I have to pay nearly $8,000. This may not sound like much to someone who frequents hospitals, but I have not spent that much on health care in ten years — why doesn’t this qualify me for a subsidy? The only way any of the lower-end plans will provide any benefit at all is if I fall victim to an unlikely, expensive illness or injury, and the higher-end plans provide more than I need as a ‘young invincible’ and at a cost I have no incentive to pay.
It’s fair to say that this so-called service amounts to little more than a sense of security. Why drop $1,300 minimum for a sense of security in a First World nation that would actually save money by simply insuring everyone, thereby providing a real incentive for people like me, along with others who want or need access to health care but can’t afford it, to go for regular medical appointments, take the drugs they need, and preclude the kind of catastrophic payouts that the ‘young invincibles’ health care plans I mentioned are allegedly designed to provide?