The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Columns

October 3, 2009

Konrad Heid, guest columnist: Sorry, there’s still no free lunch

There’s an old saying “you can’t get blood out of a turnip.” Our president obviously doesn’t adhere to this saying. Obama claims requiring everyone to have health insurance is not a tax increase; rather it is just an attempt to get folks without health insurance to pay their fair share of the costs they pass on to the present system — a fine, a fee, not a tax.

Forty-seven million uninsured ought to be up in arms. I think it is safe to say there is a large contingent of uninsured who are young and relatively healthy; their burden on health care costs is relatively minor compared to his proposed $3,500 “fee” or “fine.” It’s the catastrophic that run up the costs.

The State of Massachusetts has tried this approach with the state supplementing front-end costs; this idea dates back to Mitt Romney’s days as governor. It was an interesting experiment in a state that has been on the edge of bankruptcy since the Dukakis days. Massachusetts has apparently found it difficult to enforce as a sizable number of residents are reported to still not have health insurance and, as you might expect, the costs continue to rise by some estimates faster than the national average.

Income per capita in Massachusetts is well above the national average; overlay this kind of forced placed insurance across states with large numbers of low wage earners, high non-employed or many cash-only/barter workers is inviting a confrontation difficult to control or enforce.

To compare a requirement for health insurance to requiring liability insurance on autos is an apple vs. orange comparison, and some are now questioning if it really isn’t unconstitutional.

Initially you might jump to the conclusion that only those who do not currently pay for their health care or carry insurance would be penalized (taxed). No, this is not correct.

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