Health Care Safety Net WITHOUT Individual Mandate
Many people today do not buy health insurance for one simple reason—they know that if they get sick that someone else will pay for their hospital bills. This is called the free-rider problem. People can get the benefit (hospital care) without paying the cost (insurance)
One way to address this problem is mandating that everyone buy health insurance. I admit at one time I thought this was reasonable and stated so in a post here on Redstate. Well, it didn’t take 15 minutes for RedState posters to show me the error of my thinking: 1) There was the constitutional argument (not an enumerated power), 2) The auto insurance liability argument (requirement is to hold you accountable for damages you might cause to others) and Auto driving is a privilege argument (You do not have to drive if you cannot afford to cover damages you might cause to others) 3) The government defining health insurance argument (Mandating health insurance gives the government tremendous power to define what health insurance is and what will be covered and what will NOT be covered. i.e. Death Panels).
So how can we avoid the free rider problem without an individual mandate that takes away vital freedoms and violates the constitution?
The answer is simple. Do not require anyone to purchase health insurance. However, if they choose to get government assistance when they get sick, deduct their payments from Social Security either by delaying retirement or through reduced payments (to some minimal level)
You might be thinking: Some people want to buy health insurance but cannot afford it because they are poor or temporarily out of work. For those who are temporarily out work, why not allow them to use some of their Social Security retirement money now so they can avoid potentially devastating financial losses? For those who are truly poor, they are already covered by Medicaid.
Under this proposal, no one would be required to purchase insurance. But if they get sick, they should expect a reduction in their retirement if they expect others to pay for their bills. This plan does not require defining what is covered or not. If a person takes government aid, they know they will have to work longer or get less at retirement. Knowing this, people who can afford insurance will be more inclined to purchase because they will know we will not pick up their bills for them.