The Individual Mandate? It’s Actually A Conservative Idea, About Personal Responsibility

factMy colleague Allen Clifton wrote a piece which debunks some of the myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and the comments I saw by some of the readers (many of which seem to be paid trolls) have convinced me of one thing — despite every fact you give people, many will still hold on to ridiculous delusions and continue to perpetuate absurd lies.

However, aside from those who are still hung up on the idea of “death panels” and other incredibly bizarre conspiracy ideas sold with a wink and a concerned-looking hair flip by a failed 2008 VP candidate, there are many people who just don’t understand what the Affordable Care Act will do for them. Too many still think that they are going to be sent to jail for not purchasing insurance under the “individual mandate” portion of the law, even if they are too poor to afford insurance premiums. There are even those who think they’re going to be tossed off their employer-subsidized health insurance and forced to pay far more than they already do for less coverage than what they have now. Senator Ted Cruz even went so far as to cite 15,000 people at UPS being forced off their spouse’s coverage as proof of this. Politifact has researched this claim and found it to be false:

“Cruz said that by dropping spousal health insurance for 15,000 employees, UPS left employees’ spouses “without health insurance” and told them to, “go on an exchange with no employer subsidy.”

But Cruz ignores that the only spouses being kicked off the UPS plan would be the ones who already had access to an employer-sponsored plan in their own job. This means they wouldn’t be “without health insurance” and wouldn’t have to find coverage on an Obamacare marketplace. We rate the claim False.”

Let’s set a few things straight. If you have insurance paid for through your employer, you’re going to keep it. The individual mandate states that those who can afford it, based off of a federal poverty guidelines formula, must pay a whopping $95 per uninsured person in 2014, according to Aetna.

If you fall below federal poverty guidelines, you pay zero; zip; zilch; nada in penalties. If you have any kind of health insurance already, you pay nothing in penalties. If you are a member of an Indian tribe or live outside the United States, you are also exempt.

The individual mandate, when you look at it in perspective, is like Social Security. Younger people like myself with no major health issues — and who can afford to join the pool — are being required to do so, in exchange for others to provide revenue into the insurance pool when we are older and the insurance companies who can no longer drop us have to start paying our medical bills.

“But I shouldn’t be forced to buy something I don’t want! The government cannot force me to purchase health insurance, it’s unconstitutional!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen this argument played out on the Internet by Constitutional keyboard commandos who haven’t even grasped the use of proper spelling or grammar — let alone read the Constitution — I’d be sipping a cocktail on a sunny beach right now.

Let’s be honest, nobody likes spending money on bills. I’d rather spend the $90 a month premium for myself and two children on fishing tackle or premium whiskey, but with adulthood comes personal responsibilities. Personal responsibility, isn’t that something that you hear about over and over again from the very political party that is now standing opposed to the Affordable Care Act? The individual mandate is actually an idea that originally came from the very conservative Heritage Foundation in response to “HillaryCare” in the 1990’s, and was even referred to as part of a “Health Care Social Contract.” Personal responsibility and a social contract aren’t liberal ideas or conservative ideas, they’re common sense ideas.

It is not fair to those who purchase insurance for you to not buy it, but then show up in the emergency room and drive up medical costs because you just cost the hospital $20,000 or more, which you’ll never be able to pay back.

Also, if you purchase insurance from a provider, you should have the reasonable expectation that they won’t drop you after a couple of decades of business because you have cancer or some other illness that they don’t want to pay for. As part of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are now barred from dropping you once you no longer become profitable. They also can’t just pick healthy people to cover, and they’re required to pay out 85% of premiums, or refund the difference. Just like people are being required to be personally responsible and not burden hospitals with unpaid bills, insurance companies are also being forced to be responsible and fair to their policy holders.

Is Obamacare perfect? No, it isn’t. Just like any other piece of legislation that has ever made it to the president’s desk, there’s room to improve. However, we live in a nation where we have to compromise between those who would like to cut down the social safety net and set it on fire, and those who want the government to provide health insurance via a single payer system.

So why all the misinformation and uninformed hysteria surrounding the full implementation of Obamacare? It’s simple. It’s very obvious people have not sat down and rationally reviewed anything related to this legislation, and have instead listened to media pundits paid to either talk about how wonderful it is, or convince folks that there’s hidden language in it which requires us to euthanize grandma if she gets too ill.

Stop listening to all the political grandstanding and all of the scare tactics used by politicians and the media who are purposely misleading you for political points, and do some actual research. Here is a flowchart showing how the individual mandate works, as well as individual mandate FAQs from Cigna to get you started. If some people would just show a little effort to get informed, I think they’d figure out that Obamacare isn’t the horrible thing they’ve been led to believe it is.

Comments

Facebook comments

  • tamooj

    However, one unintended side effect we’re starting to see now; Insurance companies are using this opportunity to discontinue numerous plans they offer privately – If I buy health insurance on my own (I’m self-employed), the insurance company doesn’t have a negotiated contract with a big employer to stop them them from just jacking up my rates sky-high or shutting down my plan and only offering a much pricier plan (or to force me to use the ACA exchange if I’m still unprofitable). This is becoming a widespread predatory practice and hopefully it will be front-page news soon.
    The President promising “If you like your existing plan, keep it!” didn’t take into account the insurance company deciding to grab at the chance to gouge their consumers by moving them (up or down) into higher margin buckets.

    • nitalynn

      If I were in your shoes even if I kept my plan I would scout out the exchanges to be prepared if they do something like that. On the other hand if I recall correctly they can now longer do that except when the contract runs out at the end of the policy year.

  • LL11

    I have, over and over again, told friends and colleagues that “Obamacare”, including the mandate, is a Republican idea that was proposed during the “Hillarycare” fight. Actually, the personal mandate goes back to the late 80s. They refuse to believe me, so I send them links. They still refuse to believe me. *SIGH*

    • LeeAnne Green

      Yep. Me, too. But that is because people have forgotten how to think for themselves.

  • HelenRainier

    The ACA concept was actually a plan originally pitched by the Heritage Foundation. Jim DeMint now heads the HF and HF has fallen out of favor with the Republican Party.

  • Charles Vincent

    This article deals with the individual mandate and also shows that conservatives were way ahead of liberals when thinking about healthcare affordability.

    http://www DOT forbes DOT com/sites/theapothecary/2012/02/07/the-tortuous-conservative-history-of-the-individual-mandate/

  • midwestfarmersdaughter

    Personally, I do receive insurance via my employer of which I pay a portion of the premium. However, my co-workers and I are forced into participating in a wellness program, and we receive incentives to go to the doctor for a variety of tests, shots, blood panels, etc. The more one goes to the doctor, the more tests one takes, the more incentives one receives. What a joke. No wonder insurance coverage has skyrocketed. Also, I have to report to my employer about my weight, blood pressure, liver panel etc. I detest the lack of privacy. I would prefer a public option. I am healthy and when my time is up, I have no plan to be a voodoo doll for medical people to run tests on my aging, old body. The only problem with Obamacare is that it did not go far enough – we need a public option. Then we would all see premiums go down.

  • Rick Loughrey

    think about this. this “author” talks about how the other side is ignorant and liars right??? and yet his own friggin article is full of both… What a joke #1—-” .There are even those who think they’re going to be tossed off their employer-subsidized health insurance and forced to pay far more than they already do for less coverage than what they have now. ” THAT’S ALREADY HAPPINING!! and there’s TONS of national headlines by MULTIBLE news outlets proving this…#2 “Cruz said that by dropping spousal health insurance for 15,000 employees, UPS left employees’ spouses “without health insurance” and told them to, “go on an exchange with no employer subsidy.”

    But Cruz ignores that the only spouses being kicked off the UPS plan would be the ones who already had access to an employer-sponsored plan in their own job. This means they wouldn’t be “without health insurance” and wouldn’t have to find coverage on an Obamacare marketplace. We rate the claim False.”…..Soooo he just ADMITTED that his previous statement was a lie AND that if their rates would go UP.. If their other own employee coverage was cheaper then they would have already been on it….. Again and Again people post these shameful posts written by dumbasses that aren’t even smart enough to realize that they contradict themselves…