As debate has been renewed about repealing the federalization of health insurance (known as “Obamacare”), its defenders have attempted to dismiss the concerns of those of us who have been required to pay higher insurance premiums for health insurance coverage for certain health care services we could never possibly use. These dismissals are based upon a false understanding of insurance.
The liberals who defend Obamacare, which was approved by a liberal Democratic Congress and signed into law by liberal Democratic United States President Barack Obama in 2009, insist that insurance is defined by customers paying for services they may never need, as the point of insurance is for the healthy to pay for the coverage of the ill. They cite examples, such as paying for organ transplant coverage, even though most people never need such a procedure. This liberal argument is based upon their goal of wealth redistribution from the wealthy to the poor, forced by government—the federal government—and not upon the true purpose of insurance.
Although it is true that the healthy pay for the coverage of the ill, the liberals miss the point that customers pay for insurance in order, at the least, to have peace of mind that, in case of the need for a particular health care service, the costs will be borne by the insurer. There is no peace of mind to be obtained by paying for a health care service that one could not possibly ever need, as in the case, for example, of a man being having to pay a higher premium for individual insurance for women’s health care services. Therefore, there is a difference between coverage for health care which one hopes never to use and care that one could never possibly use.
As a result of this difference, health insurance coverage does not necessarily work the way liberal defenders of Obamacare insist it does, even apart from the difference on whether one obtains peace of mind through coverage. Before Obamacare, not only could healthy customers join together in a pool based upon their lower level of risk, which lowers their cost, just as safer drivers pay less for automobile coverage than those who are more accident-prone, but their coverage can exclude those health care services they could never need. Health insurance was analogous to other kinds of insurance. For example, one could insure one’s home, but not necessarily one’s jewelry, unless one wanted to pay an additional premium for such additional coverage. Obamacare, however, has eliminated insurance underwriting and limited choices, which are only based upon whether or not a customer is a smoker. It thus does not incentivize other healthy behaviors, as the health insurance industry did before, despite Obamacare’s claimed emphasis on “preventative care.”
People should be free to purchase only what they need or want, as is the case with nearly everything, except health insurance. Health insurance ought not to be an exception. It is not fare to force customers to pay extra for additional health insurance coverage for health care services they could never possibly use. Health insurance is not wealth redistribution. Furthermore, healthy people should be rewarded for their behaviors as an incentive to remain healthy and there should be financial disincentives against poor health choices.