(CCU Staff) After two years of campaigns, hopeful orations, and double speak, the only citizens experiencing sweeping change may be the janitors on Capitol Hill. With the House passing the Democrat’s health care bill last week, that could change should the Senate follow suit. Failure regarding this bill, the President said, was not an option. But what if that isn’t true? What if failure is part of the design?
One of the hotly contested measures in the Democrats’ bill is an insurance mandate, which would force healthy people who do not use much health care, and often choose not to buy insurance, to purchase coverage. President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and their Congressional cohorts openly profess that such a mandate will lower health insurance costs for the sick, since healthy people pay more in premiums than they receive in claims reimbursements, and these surpluses subsidize insurance costs for the unhealthy. Yet what these Beltway fixer-uppers have not stated is that the mandate might be designed to fail.
To get healthy people to shell out thousands of dollars for insurance policies they do not want, the government would have to institute stiff-as-whisky and hard-as-nails penalties to curb non-compliance. Otherwise, people would find it cheaper to pay the penalty. Exhibit A: Mitt Romney instituted a mandate that Massachusetts employers pay for their employees’ health insurance or face an annual $295 penalty. As $295 is no more than the price of a nice night out in Boston, many businesses paid the penalty, ignored the mandate, and left their employees to fend for themselves. Exhibit B: Forty-seven states mandate that vehicle owners purchase auto insurance. But as Regina Herzlinger points out in her book, Who Killed Health Care?, a lack of aggressive enforcement has produced widespread non-compliance. “Roughly the same percentage of Americans are uninsured