If you oppose the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, you are just dumb. And, it doesn’t matter WHY you oppose the mandate. People who SUPPORT the mandate do so because they believe anyone who can afford to do so should purchase health insurance so that the rest of us don’t have to pick up the tab for them when they get sick. So, if you believe that people should take some personal responsibility for themselves, you would be dumb to oppose the mandate.
But ,let’s say you are one of those hardy Americans who take care of themselves and don’t want anyone telling you that you have to purchase health insurance, particularly not some socialist Obamacareist. So, you are flaming mad at this individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and hope the Supreme Court strikes it down on Thursday.
Ezra Klein says if that’s what you think, you are just one damn fool. Why? Well, says Klein, the individual mandate is the BEST DEAL IN TOWN if what you want to do is NOT PURCHASE health insurance. How is that? Here is his reasoning:
Here’s what happens now if you decide to wait until you’re sick to buy health insurance: Every health insurance company will tell you no, or they’ll charge you an exorbitant rate, or they’ll offer you insurance that will cover everything except your illness. Insurers, quite rightly, do not want to cover preexisting conditions, and there’s little consumers can do to make them change their minds.
Under the Affordable Care Act, here’s what happens if you wait until you’re sick to buy health insurance: You can buy health insurance and no insurer can charge you more for walking into their office with a lump the size of a golf ball. The catch is that between now and getting sick, if you can afford insurance — which the law defines as you have access to insurance that costs less than eight percent of your income — you have to pay a penalty of $695 a year (that’s the 2016 number; after 2016, it rises with inflation) or 2.5 percent of your annual income, whichever is greater.
The fact of the matter is that $695 a year or 2.5 percent of your annual income is likely to be a lot less than a decent insurance policy will cost you. In a way, paying the mandate is like buying an option to purchase insurance at some future date, when you need it more, for a price that you could never have gotten before the mandate.
But let’s say you try to eke out an even better deal than that: Let’s say you don’t buy insurance and you simply refuse to pay the mandate. What can the government do to make you pay?
Well, unlike if you refuse to pay your taxes, it can’t throw you in jail or put a lien on your home or other property (page 336 of the legislation). It can potentially reduce your tax refund, but that’s really it. If you’re not getting a tax refund, you’re free and clear.
Just goes to show how totally dumb people who oppose the individual mandate because they don’t want to buy insurance are. They could get guaranteed insurability for $695 per year or even ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Now that’s dumb, real dumb.
Read Klein here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/06/26/the-irony-of-the-individual-mandate/