COMMENTARY | The right wing of this country seems to have gone a bit beyond the bend in reaction to the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act ruling, with hyperbole including threats to move to Canada to protest the law, and even the suggestion that it's time to take up arms against the government.
Let's put aside, for the moment, the delicious irony of moving to a country with a socialist health care system to protest our law. Let's table the question of who would foot the bill for the inevitable injuries that would occur from an armed uprising. Let's focus on the fact that some conservatives are rending their garments and gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair over Obamacare as the imposition of socialism at its very worst.
Umm, guys, you may want to dial it back a little. You're protesting your own principles here.
The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, which requires individuals to purchase health insurance if they can afford to do so. So liberal, right?
Well, no. The individual mandate simply requires personal responsibility. You guys remember personal responsibility, don't you? One of the cornerstones of conservatism?
If people who can afford health insurance do not buy it, and then get ill, society absorbs the costs. The individual mandate says you have to buy your own plan; not your neighbor's, not the plan for a homeless person. A plan for you and your family. If you don't, you will have a fine. Why?
Because the fine is an attempt to recoup your costs that you are foisting on your neighbor. By not purchasing your own insurance, you are saying that you expect society to make up your shortfall. No one can do that anymore. If you can afford to do so, you pay your own way, whether through the purchase of insurance or through the payment of the fines.
Now, with everyone covered by insurance, the insurance pools, especially for people who purchase private insurance, get much, much bigger. With bigger pools, costs are spread, and you get lower rates. Insurance companies will want the largest pools they can get, and so they have an incentive to compete for business, resulting in cheaper premiums, better coverage, and whatever other competitive advantages they can dream up.
That's the cornerstone of capitalism.
So you have capitalistic, boot-straps legislation, and still the GOP is miserable. Surely it must be harmful for its constituents?
Well, yes, if by "constituents" you mean insurance companies. Not the living, breathing, might get a terrible disease, lifetime-limit, pre-existing condition conservatives who merely reaffirm their own principles by paying their own way with insurance, and receive the benefit of some protections of that coverage while getting better value. Nope, Obamacare doesn't harm those constituents.
It's the insurers who made record-setting profits during this economic downturn, and those self-same insurers who will now have to demonstrate that they've spent 80 percent of premiums on services or rebate the difference to consumers. About $1.3 billion will be returned to policy-holders this summer.
That's seriously anti-conservative, right? Depends on whether you're the consumer getting what you pay for, or the insurer no longer able to justify getting money for nothing.
Obamacare is far from a liberal agenda; it is a pretty conservative solution to a huge social and economic problem. And no one, liberal, conservative, in-between, or off to the side -- so long as you're a human person -- should have the slightest qualm about having this basic need met in a rational way.