The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, has commendable provisions: no more lifetime coverage caps, extended coverage until young adults turn 26, and coverage even for those with pre-existing conditions, among others. Best of all, it promises health insurance for all.
Upon closer scrutiny, however, the law promises the moon while discouraging personal responsibility. Don’t get me wrong. Despite health insurance’s bad rap, I know it’s a lifeline for many, my dad included. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer of the thymus gland. His insurance covered radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery until his cancer went into remission.
This past week, while the Supreme Court was arguing the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s “individual mandate” provision, my parents were once again meeting with Dad’s doctors because the cancer has returned, this time in his lung.
I asked my mom what of his treatment their insurance plan is covering, and I was relieved to hear their plan covered most of the cost, especially with an insurance rider for cancer.
I’m grateful my parents have insurance so my dad has options with which to fight his disease. But I do have an issue with a law that promises universal health coverage in the same way that our current welfare system discourages personal responsibility.
At the core of ObamaCare is the requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Proponents of the law say this increase in premiums will offset the cost of health insurance for some 50 million uninsured Americans. Apart from the question of constitutionality — an issue currently being decided by the Supreme Court — there are two major flaws to ObamaCare.
First, the penalty is minimal compared to actually purchasing insurance. What is the incentive to purchase insurance when the penalty of not doing so is cheaper and of little consequence? If there is a shortfall, wouldn’t insurance companies have to raise their premiums, thus rendering insurance less affordable for all?
Consequently, is it fair that some Americans pay more, through insurance premiums or corporate taxes and fees in the billions, so everyone else has health insurance they refuse to buy?
Consider this analogy: I recently had the locks on my truck shell fixed for sixty bucks. Before that, when we traveled, the broken locks were a constant source of worry to me. I weighed the cost of the repair against the cost of stolen items to be replaced and I finally decided it was worth sixty bucks for my peace of mind.
Granted, health insurance is absurdly expensive. A hefty insurance premium can be downright prohibitive for a family already stretched thin financially. But, as is the case with my parents, compared to what insurance buys in medical care and peace of mind, you can’t afford to not have it.
Ah, but this goes against the grain of current American mentality, which is if it’s broke, let the government fix it. When disaster strikes — houses washed out in flood plains, for instance — lines form for a government handout, even though everyone’s had equal opportunity to purchase insurance.
With our welfare-state government already mired in so much debt, it’s aggravating that the president and his cohorts have chosen to fix health care the way they’ve tried to fix everything for the last four years: make the “haves” pay up while discouraging personal responsibility.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. She blogs at pink-ink-pink.blogspot. com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.