One of the most disliked provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obama Care, is the individual mandate. In 2014 all individuals and families must purchase acceptable health insurance or face a penalty. I didn’t like it when my mother made me eat my vegetables and I really chafe under government mandates.
From my recollection, it was the insurance companies who lobbied for the individual mandate. In order to offer certain benefits within a specific cost range, the health insurance providers need to be assured of a significantly large enough pool of healthy people to spread the risk and expense.
One of the big drivers of medical expenses, and in turn health insurance premiums, is the tremendous amount of uncollected debt owed to hospitals and doctors for emergency room care. In California alone, hospitals shouldered more than $5 billion for uncompensated care in 2003. In addition, it has been estimated by The American Hospital Association that hospitals lost $36.5 billion in uncompensated care due to underpayments for service by Medicaid in 2009.
But I have a solution. Instead of a mandate; Every person who wishes not to purchase health insurance, or get subsidized health insurance, should pledge to America that if they are treated for an accident or illness in a hospital they will faithfully pay off the debt incurred for the treatment and will not declare bankruptcy to have the debt discharged.
Part of the rational for health insurance is to protect your assets from unexpected and potentially catastrophic medical bills. The side benefit is that the hospitals and doctors that provide the treatment are paid. If all of us pledge to pay off our medical bills, regardless of our situation or circumstances, there should be little reason to keep the individual mandate in force.
So, let us all send in our pledge cards to Congress today and I am sure they will listen to the voice of the people and repeal the mandate. And I also pledge to eat my vegetables.