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.


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