Oh, Poor You

Reading that old established source of even-handed political discourse (the Crimson editorial page) today, I happened to spy the words “Is Obamacare Good For Us?”.  Good question.  However, the article that followed seemed to have some unfortunate views on the answer.

The author, James Wu, was mostly complaining about the individual mandate.  A common target.  So yes, we get it.  You’ll have to pay money.  What a tragedy, for a young, up and coming I’m going to guess businessman to have to actually put money into the healthcare system before he grows old and sick, or either gets in a severe accident or contracts a debilitating disease.  In which case no profit-seeking health insurance company would cover you under the current system.  And if, to counter that, we prohibit restrictions based on pre-existing conditions, we get what is called the free rider system, where people like you, who refuse to deny their own vulnerability until they desperately need health care, wait until such a moment to purchase health insurance rather than paying into the system with premiums for several years beforehand.  And as much as I might enjoy watching the nation’s health insurance companies crumble, I somehow doubt that would be a good idea.  So, if we want every person who needs health care to receive it, rather than in many cases a resounding “eff you” from the insurance companies, without the public option, a single-payer system, or socialized health care (yes, believe it or not, neither of the previous two – nor what is currently before the House – are in fact socialized medicine), we need the individual mandate.  We need the individual mandate.  WE NEED THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.  Got it?  Good.

Not to mention that Mr. Wu already lives in a state with an individual mandate.

In that case, he’s probably thinking about when he graduates.  And apparently starts a business that, right from the beginning, has a payroll of $400,000: “The Democrats’ healthcare plan would require all small business with payrolls over $400-000 – around one million employers – to cover healthcare or pay an 8 percent surcharge.  This means that the added bureaucracy and taxes of the current healthcare bill will stymie future innovation.”  Let’s see . . . .  No.  It doesn’t.  If the entrepreneurs you talk about can pay $400,000 in payrolls (which they probably can’t, at least not in the beginning), then they can afford to pay $32,000 for their employees’ health care.  Unless they really don’t care about their employees . . . well, I guess I see where that puts you.

Which brings us to the fundamental truth of the health care debate that Mr. Wu and all who take his side seem so good at avoiding: Health care is about helping the sick.  And sometimes, it will come at the expense of the healthy.  When you pay health insurance premiums, that’s not just to pay for your own illnesses, that’s so that the insurance companies (or, in nationalized systems, the government) can pay for other people who get sicker than you.  So the extra money you complain about having to pay will go to saving the life of a friend or neighbor.  Or, since you complain about limits on age rating, a friend’s parent (who couldn’t afford the costs if they were twice yours), and pre-existing conditions, a friend with acne.

So, no, it is not true for anyone that “the mandate will strip [them] of their rights.”  They will still have criminal rights, civil rights, freedom of speech, even the freedom to write whiny editorials.  Obamacare won’t “disincentivize small business growth”, at least not as much as much as employees becoming ill because the health insurance their employers didn’t pay for didn’t provide preventative care.  It won’t “increase premiums,” at least not if its cost-cutting measures work out, and as for the jobs it will “threaten,” people who are dead or critically ill can’t enjoy the fruits of employment.  And it may “directly impact [students'] lives and potentially map out their futures,” but most likely by preventing or curing maladies.  Because, in the end, coverage limits shouldn’t be determined by how much people “feel that they need complete coverage.”  Full coverage ought to extend to all who do need it.  Which is everyone.

So to answer your question, Yes.  Obamacare good for us.