The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Let’s help people, not force them!

Supporters of “Obamacare” take the Republicans and, in general, opponents of the act to task for trying to “sabotage the act rather than making it work better.” But there is a long and honorable precedent for this kind of activity, trying to sabotage an undesirable law rather than simply acquiescing in it and making it “work better.” Back in the early 19th Century, there was a Fugitive Slave Law, requiring people to turn over escaped slaves to their masters. But people who did not believe in slavery did not acquiesce — they actively worked to “sabotage” the law, by operating the “Underground Railroad” to get escaped slaves to Canada and freedom. “Obamacare” may not be quite as evil as the Fugitive Slave Law, but it is still bad law, and sabotaging it is a good end to strive for.

The goal of “Obamacare” is supposed to be universal health insurance, where everybody is insured — whether they want to be or not! And yet, even so, it is conceded by even its most fervent supporters that this goal will not be attained. I say that this is probably a good thing — it’s not a desirable goal in the first place — and a far better goal is to make sure that everyone who wants it can afford health insurance, while allowing those who don’t think they need it to “self-insure.” As I say in the title of this post, “Let’s help people, not force them!”

The guiding premise of “Obamacare” seems to be that the American people are like children, unable to figure out what is in their best interests, who need to be forced to do what is best for them. Not only the individual mandate, but even the rules that say that policies must cover thus-and-so, the ones that are forcing cancellations because existing policies (which their policyholders thought were right for them, but which the Obama administration has decided are “inadequate”) do not meet the standards, evince this philosophical attitude. A sensible plan would scrap this attitude and instead let the people decide what sort of health insurance plan is appropriate for them.

I am not going to write a total replacement law for “Obamacare” — I am not a Congressman, and my own Congressman is so strongly pro-Obama that I would never be able to get him to introduce a law on my behalf. But I have a few ideas which I think need to be expanded on.

The idea of “exchanges,” basically, is a good one. But it never should have been a state-by-state thing. Why can a resident of one state not be able to buy a policy that another person a few miles away can? While it might make sense for one state to establish a law that companies may not market a policy within a state if it fails to meet state standards, health insurance should be more like other commodities. If I see something I like that is only sold in one place, I can go there and buy it, and even, these days, buy it online from the place where it is sold. The exchanges — or rather, a national health insurance exchange — ought to work that way.

It has been stated that the requirement that preexisting conditions not preclude coverage requires an individual mandate. People, supposedly, will put off coverage until they are sick, and only enroll then. However, there is a better idea — which is already part of the way Medicare Part D (the prescription drug part of Medicare) works. You are not required to enroll in a prescription drug plan, but if you do not when you are eligible, then when you finally do, your premiums are raised, in proportion to the number of years you have not taken advantage of your eligibility. This is a far less coercive idea than making people pay a tax — and avoids the IRS being involved.

These are just a couple of the ideas that a replacement for “Obamacare” ought to consider.

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