Your neighbor has to pay for your broccoli

More information on the Massachusetts bill requiring universal health care coverage.

“We insist that everybody who drives a car has insurance,” [Gov. Mitt] Romney said in an interview. “And cars are a lot less expensive than people.”

I’m dismayed to see that a likely presidential candidate’s thinking is so evolved that he compares people to cars. It would be an effective analogy if he hadn’t forgotten that a car is a choice that poses a known hazard to other people, which in turn imparts legal liability on the owner. If I choose to carry no health insurance and I get sick, I face the financial burden of that choice. Big difference. Naturally, Gov. Romney hoped to imply that the financial burden placed on society from uninsured individuals requiring medical attention. That’s a reasonable debate, but instead of going for the reasonable, he aimed low to appeal to the simple-minded who want government to manage everyone’s life. Or at least everyone else’s life.

This is, I suspect, the target for this new legislation:

But no state, experts say, has taken the step of making health insurance coverage a legal requirement. The idea was applauded by Uwe E. Reinhardt, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, who said that he has long believed that the American system of allowing uninsured patients to receive care at the government’s expense was nothing more than “freedom to mooch.”

I can hear the chorus of cheers coming from market-driven liberals progressives (it’s a faint cheer), but the overall idea looks a little different when considering the final portion of Prof. Reinhardt’s statement:

“Massachusetts is the first state in America to reach full adulthood,” said Reinhardt, noting that the new measure is a move toward personal responsibility. “The rest of America is still in adolescence.”

Only in modern America, with our full complement of government parentalism, could anyone consider forced action to be personal responsibility and adulthood. I could wear a penguin suit to work tomorrow, but that won’t make me a penguin.

As for the plan itself, if this is what providing a conservative, private sector solution looks like, I’m giving up.

Uninsured people earning less than the federal poverty threshold would be able to purchase subsidized policies that have no premiums, and would be responsible for very small co-payment fees for emergency-room visits and other services. Those earning between that amount and three times the poverty-level amount would be able to buy subsidized policies with premiums based on their ability to pay. Though no maximum premium is set in the bill, legislators’ intent seems to be for it to top out at about $200 to $250 per month.

All residents will have to provide details about their health insurance policy on their state income tax returns in 2008. Those who do not have insurance would first lose their personal state tax exemption, perhaps worth $150, and later face penalties equal to half the cost of the cheapest policy they should have bought. That might work out to $1,200 per year, officials said. Those who cannot find an affordable plan could obtain a waiver.

I might give up anyway. Please, someone in Massachusetts, step back from the nanny-state abyss and think about what this really means. I’d love for it to succeed, but I’m only promising that I won’t say “I told you so” when it fails to deliver the hoped-for outcome. Rather than babble on further, I’ll let yesterday’s hero, Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, fill you all with his words of inspiration:

“We did something to solve the problem,” he said.

Do you think he’ll stand on “we did something” or “solve the problem” when this blows up?

For a smart take on this: National Review

2 thoughts on “Your neighbor has to pay for your broccoli”

  1. Massachusetts’ False Insurance Analogy

    The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill that would make health insurance compulsory in that state:

    Gov. Mitt Romney (R) supports the p…

  2. I’d love for it to succeed, but I’m only promising that I won’t say “I told you so” when it fails to deliver the hoped-for outcome.
    You are a better man than I. I’ve already prepped my “I told you so moment.” The only question is whether or not I’ll still be blogging by then.

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