Virginia appears to have got it right

The New York Times reported today that the United States District Court-Eastern District of Virginia issued a ruling that finds a requirement that all Americans purchase a minimum level of health insurance unconstitutional.

I’ll need to read through this one myself, but at first blush the court appears to be putting government’s role back on the right path. Government regulates commercial activity. The constitution says nothing about regulating commercial inactivity.

Should government look out for the general welfare? Of course it should. One can argue that there are health epidemics like obesity that we should be concerned about. Obesity has a negative impact on individual health and can lead to decreases in our overall productivity.

Do we combat obesity with a mandate that Americans buy more health insurance? No. We combat obesity and other ailments that may impair our general welfare via educating our citizens about the epidemic and isolating and correcting the behaviors that cause it.

From a market perspective, it has been documented that we have a shortage of health professionals. We can begin by funding educational incentives to get more primary care practitioners into the health care system, thus driving down the price of getting actual care. Trying to make the delivery of health insurance less expensive for insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid is a misplaced effort, and to put it bluntly, downright deceitful.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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One Response to Virginia appears to have got it right

  1. Kenneth J. Ciszewski says:

    The logic behind having everyone buy health care insurance had nothing to do with obesity. The idea was that everyone should be pay to be covered, since there are laws in many states (Missouri is one of them) that require hospital emergency rooms to provide care for those who can’t or don’t pay. Those of us who do pay for actual health care, and for health insurance, pay more to help defray the cost of those who can’t or don’t pay. From a simple fairness point of view, it would seem to make sense to have everyone pay toward health care costs, since almost everyone at some point needs health care.

    The counter argument was that there are those who are willing to take the risk of not having insurance on the grounds that, if they don’t need medical care, they could save the insurance premiums–why buy something you don’t need?

    There is a parallel with automobile insurance. Most states require some minimum level of liability insurance for each person who drives a car. Why? Because a person who causes an accident can cause great financial harm to others, and, under civil law, those harmed can sue for damages. That doesn’t work, of course, if the person sued has no means to pay if the judgment goes against him–ask anyone who ever got a civil judgment against a small businessman who has his assets in his wife’s name, making him judgment proof (well, collection proof, anyway). Automobile insurance provides a means of getting payment from those who cause accidents for those who are harmed by them.

    The argument can be made that those who don’t buy health insurance and subsequently can’t pay for health care are economically harming those who can pay by driving up both insurance premiums and health care costs for those who pay.

    We can solve the problem of having some people pay for health care and health insurance and others not by an alternative means–we can repeal all the laws requiring hospitals to treat those who can’t pay. I know that sounds incredibly callous and inhuman, since as a result there are people who will suffer and die. I am personally not in favor of repealing those laws. On the other hand, if we believe so much in individual choice, that’s fine, but each person should be accountable for the consequences of his choices and actions, but his fellow man should not be responsible for those consequences.

    Should this happen, more people might think twice about not buying health insurance.

    While we are at it, let’s repeal the requirement for auto insurance as well. Where were all the states attorney generals and the ACLU when we needed them to defend us against the tyranny of automobile insurance?

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