A Confused Message on Insurance Mandates

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 10:25 am

On the topic of the government’s role in mandating insurance coverage, there’s an interesting distinction being put forth by some conservatives as they aim to bring down the Democrats’ plans to revamp the nation’s health care system: Namely, they’re arguing that requiring drivers to buy insurance makes sense, but mandating coverage for patients doesn’t.

The issue came to head yesterday on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” where host Chris Matthews and Tim Phillips, who heads Americans for Prosperity, duked it out over whether that distinction makes any sense. Phillips, a self-described free-market conservative, argued that the drivers’ requirement is “a decent mandate,” but he doesn’t feel the same system is appropriate for health insurance.

“When you have health care, that’s a choice that impacts yourself,” Phillips said. “Drivers’ insurance impacts other drivers you may have accidents with.”

When Matthews accurately pointed out that health insurance certainly does impact other patients — because hospital emergency rooms, which are required to treat patients whether they’re insured or not, simply pass along the costs to treat the uninsured to everyone else — Phillips responded by upending his own differentiation between drivers and patients.

“They do put costs on the people who buy insurance,” Phillips said of the hospitals, “but I don’t want to see government reaching in and hitting the pocketbooks and requiring them [patients] on the insurance front.”

Phillips is pushing for the broader creation of private health savings accounts. Considering the recent volatility of the stock market, though, it’s a bit strange that there’s still talk of trusting Wall Street to manage something as vital one’s health savings.

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grelingjackson
Comment posted August 12, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

“Considering the recent volatility of the stock market, though, it’s a bit strange that there’s still talk of trusting Wall Street to manage something as vital one’s health savings.”

This is propaganda. Not everyone who has an HSA has their money in the stock market. You may choose to do that, but the majority of people, like me, have their money in a FDIC-insured savings account at a credit union or bank making a safe interest rate of 3 to 4%. Also, recent studies reveal that even those who invested in the stock market with their HSAs lost very little compared to the rest of the market, because HSA investment options tend to consist of diversified mutual funds.

The author of this article is using misleading scare tactics to suggest that using an HSA is “trusting Wall Street” with one's health savings. When the truth is that HSAs allow people to trust themselves instead of the government while giving themselves the power to choose their own medical care on their own terms. If I want alternative therapy like accupuncture for pain or water-fasting for high blood pressure (both medically documented to work), I don't have to ask the government for permission, as would be the case under Obamacare.


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