on March 21, 2012 by admin in Insurance Industry, Comments (0)

Obamacare’s individual mandate limits freedom, subsidizes insurance industry

It’s been two years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, affectionately referred to as “Obamacare,” passed, yet the debate over the health care bill is still raging in Washington and around the country.

Republican presidential candidates have repeatedly called for the law’s repeal throughout their campaigns, and Republican congressmen are using the law’s upcoming anniversary to drum up support for their cause. As Obamacare heads to the Supreme Court next week, many of its provisions will come under review.

Although many of President Barack Obama’s supporters would trip over themselves to defend the bill, Republican critics have a point about the bill’s failings.

The No. 1 criticism of Obamacare is its implementation of an individual mandate for health insurance. Under the law, citizens are told they must buy basic health insurance or pay a fine to the IRS.

Forcing citizens to pay for a service they may not want is a power that the federal government seems to have pulled out of its hat. This lack of choice goes against the very fabric on which this nation was founded: freedom. By allowing the government to use its coercive power to affect our purchasing habits, we are setting a precedent for submitting our individual liberty in the hope that the government knows best.

Public opinion seems to agree as well. An ABC/Washington Post poll found that 67 percent of Americans are opposed to the individual mandate and would like to see it scrapped from the law.

However, it’s interesting how many liberals are willing to support this mandate considering that its biggest fans are the health insurance companies — companies that are not darlings of the left. The insurance companies argue that forcing all Americans to buy coverage will help them pay for more sickly patients while keeping costs down.

Of course, it isn’t surprising that the insurance companies would argue for the mandate. It essentially guarantees that the government will force uninsured Americans to become new customers for the insurance companies. Subsidies for those who would have trouble buying insurance also means that insurance companies would benefit from taxpayer money.

It is arguably socialism for the health insurance industry.

This wasn’t always the case, however.

When Obama was first campaigning for his health reform bill, he alluded to the inclusion of a public option several times. This was a government-run program that would compete in a market alongside private insurance companies.

In fact, a large number of polls around the time the health care bill was being debated showed that most Americans favored the inclusion of a public option, with the greatest majority favoring it as a separate choice among other private options.

However, the provision was nowhere to be found in the final bill. This is because Obama had brokered a deal with for-profit hospital lobbyists to ensure that a public option would not be included in the final bill in exchange for their political support. The deal was, in fact, already negotiated while Obama was campaigning on the possibility of including a public option in the final bill.

This fact demonstrates how Obamacare was an appeal to special interests more than it was a bill drafted in order to truly address the problems with health care in this country.

Yes, there are many provisions in the law that are beneficial to the American people. These include providing coverage to Americans with “pre-existing conditions,” allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26, and requiring insurance companies to publicly justify premium increases.

However, the law is a testament to the problems facing American governance today.

It continues the expansion of the federal government’s powers by mandating individuals to purchase health insurance, and it subsidizes big business by funneling taxpayer money and taxpayers themselves into the welcoming arms of the health insurance industry.

David Scheuermann is a 20-year-old mass communication and computer science sophomore from Kenner. Follow him on Twitter @TDR_dscheu.

 

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Contact David Scheuermann at dscheurmann@lsureveille.com

Article source: http://www.lsureveille.com/opinion/obamacare-s-individual-mandate-limits-freedom-subsidizes-insurance-industry-1.2717983

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