The Camel’s Nose
I recently came across this article by Peter Schiff.* He begins by discussing the consequences of forbidding discrimination based on pre-existing conditions:
[T]he health care bill removes the need for healthy individuals to carry insurance. Knowing that they could always find coverage if it were eventually needed, people would simply forgo paying expensive premiums while they are healthy, and then sign on when they need it. But insurance companies cannot survive if all of their policyholders are filing claims! Correctly anticipating this incentive, the Senate bill imposes an annual fine which gradually escalates to $750 for those who fail to buy coverage. So what? I would gladly pay $750 in order to avoid the $8,000 per year I pay now for personal health insurance….Since most people are capable of figuring this out, the entire insurance industry would collapse under such a system. There can be no question that $750 annual maximum penalty is a mere placeholder. It is the camel’s nose under the tent. When the non-discrimination provision kicks in, the only way these companies could remain solvent would be for Congress to raise the fine to the point where the penalty is greater than the gain of skipping coverage….the wily wonks in Washington have chosen to move slower, knowing that once the first step is taken, the second becomes inevitable. However, there is another, more devious possibility. Perhaps our elected officials …. could double-cross insurance companies by not raising the fine in five years, thereby forcing the industry into bankruptcy as millions of healthy people opt-out. During the ensuing ‘insurance crisis,’ our courageous leaders could ride to the rescue with a nationalized, single-payer system.
What Schiff says here makes a lot of sense. And it makes me increasingly opposed to a strictly partisan health care bill that is based largely upon secrecy, bribes, and brinksmanship. We need a well-thought-out plan that both parties can support.
*Schiff is a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, which is my home state. But, I haven’t decided yet who I’ll vote for in the GOP primary.