The Intermittent Kevin

As rarely and randomly updated as most blogs

Health care: Wait, I HAVE to be insured?

with one comment

Shortly after last night’s speech, I received the following amusingly over-the-top text from an unknown number.

Whoa, nelly. Turns out it was from a former coworker… I have no idea how he had my number in the first place, but he apparently thought strongly enough that Obama was the anti-Christ to share it with his entire address book.

(Whichever phones allow you to text everyone in your address book simultaneously should be burned in a fiery pit. Just saying.)

Admittedly, though, that was the one part of Obama’s speech last night where I could see pitchforks being raised and torches being lit in some quarters – “Hell, no, the guv’mint ain’t gonna require me to be insured!”

Show me your insurance card, punk.

Show me your insurance card, punk.

But yeah, what’s the deal? Will I be arrested and beaten for not carrying insurance?

Well, first of all, let’s see who’s in favor of a basic insurance requirement (similar, as the president said, to required auto insurance for drivers). Turns out, a whole lot of people. This requirement has been in every version of health-care reform passed by Congressional committees, and it’s approved of by the insurance companies (big shocker, there).

If you’ll forgive me for linking to an Albuquerque news station’s website, this seems to be a decent rundown of what’s being discussed:

Sure enough, the requirement is being endorsed by Congress as much as the president; and sure enough, fines are involved if you don’t have insurance. (See the bottom of the Q&A… during the campaign, Obama criticized having fines for noncompliance. Haven’t heard him mention it since, though, so they might stay in.)

It appears that if you earn less than three times the poverty level, you’re eligible for “tax credits to help cover the cost of premiums,” though the article is vague as to whether the credits cover the ENTIRE cost or not.

The fines are described as “stiff,” though they amount to $62.50/month for an individual and double that for a family. (Not sure what kittens you have to kill to earn the “maximum” fines.) The notion is that folks would rather get insurance than pay the fine, though they might simply go for the cheaper option, whatever that is. But I suppose most people earning over three times the poverty level—in other words, those at whom the fines are directed—are much more likely to be in a position to purchase insurance (or obtain it through an employer). Dunno, I’d need to see some statistics to straighten all this out.

The whole notion seems to go hand-in-hand with the new “insurance exchange” that keeps getting talked about, providing people with access to lower-cost options. Plus there’s McCain’s idea, pitched by Obama last night, to offer low-cost insurance for major illness or injury.

I’ll post more on the requirement plan here, as I run across it.


Written by Kevin Miller

September 10, 2009 at 10:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I’d feel more comfortable with this requirement if I knew we were getting a public option. I hate the idea of being forced to pay money to for-profit insurance companies. On the other hand, young healthy people’s premiums help balance the cost of sick old people, so everybody has to get in the pool. But back to something like my first point, that’s an argument for opening up Medicare to everybody.


    September 10, 2009 at 2:17 pm

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