Health Reform: Common Sense? Or Govt Intrusion?
Now, after years of debate we add another: get health insurance; or if not, pay a penalty for the more expensive alternative designed for disasters and catastrophic illness. Is this common sense or government intrusion?
Personal health is commonly viewed as a private matter. Anything that hints at government involvement rankles our sense of autonomy, independence and freedom of choice. It’s a matter of principle.
Health insurance by extension is also a private matter. If I’m healthy, I shouldn’t be forced to pay for something of no value to me. But personal responsibility is not only about what’s good for me. As in the example paying for police and fire protection, I don’t only behave well because it is good for me; I do my part because it benefits my community.
So how does mandated coverage help me?
Health insurance works only if people who aren’t sick participate. If the only time I buy insurance is when I need it, the notion of insurance fails and is replaced by a pre-paid purchasing plan.
Why can’t that work?
Because virtually none of us have saved enough (nor could save enough) and others of us would rather eat and pay rent than save for some unforeseen future event that we pray never happens. So while my personal health is just that; my responsibility to be a good citizen is more than personal.
It means I, along with everybody else, pay for insurance that protects whichever us is unlucky enough to face disaster and isn’t ruined in the process. Personal responsibility goes beyond a “what’s in it for me” mentality to an understanding of “what’s good for me is good for us”.
If I could guarantee you that I would never need access to expensive healthcare that I couldn’t afford, I would land solidly on the side that the individual mandate is government intrusion. But I can’t. That would be foolish. I may not like the mandate, but it does make sense.
Not only for me personally, but all of us - individually and collectively. It’s one of those personal responsibility things that grown ups have to do. It makes me a better citizen and a person of character. And who knows, someday it may just save me and my family from financial ruin.
Because none of us is getting out of here alive.