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jfos's avatar

Supporters of the 2010 US Health Care bill: How do you defend the fine imposed for those who remain uninsured?

Asked by jfos (7357 points ) March 26th, 2010

I will start out by saying that, as far as I know, I fully support the Health Care reform that is taking place. I understand and agree with most of the main provisions, as far as I know.

What I want to know is how you defend the part that concerns those who remain uninsured after 2014 (I believe). Unless they meet a low-income requirement, these individuals will incur an IRS fine of $750 or 2% of their income, whichever is greater. How do you defend that? What do you say to those who wish to remain uninsured? Especially since America is touted as a “free country,” how do you defend this act as not infringing on people’s freedom?

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20 Answers

jfos's avatar

Please, no anti-health-care-reform rallying.

wonderingwhy's avatar

because in the end, unless they can afford to pay their bill, someone else will end up doing so, likely through increased rates.

gemiwing's avatar

Some people will only respond to the stick and ignore the carrot.

It’s simple that if you can get health insurance you should. It’s worth the money to know you have some protection. If people don’t have it then others will eventually (usually) paying for your mistake of not getting healthcare. (you in general, not you obviously)

If someone really can’t afford it then they’ll fall under a certain bracket that gives them medicaid or a stipend. I’m sure there will be programs set up to help others afford it as well. There are church groups who give money for people to get emergency meds, so it will be a natural extension for them.

That’s how I explain it, usually.

marinelife's avatar

Look, since the cost of their care is a shared burden if they don’t have health care insurance, a fine (which is like a tax) seems OK to me.

The government imposes all kinds of obligations on us. We don’t get to pick and choose which we participate in.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

This, if I read correctly basically says “Almost everyone will be required to be insured or else pay a fine, which takes effect in 2014. There is an exemption for low-income people.” So it seems like just an affordable solution for those who cannot afford insurance or those who do not get benefits from their employers.
Those who cannot afford even the cheapest of government healthcare probably wont get fined as they probably fall under that category of “low-income”

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Sounds fair to me that we all share the responsibility for insuring American health.

dpworkin's avatar

The only way insurance works is if the pool is random. In order to include everyone, there must be sanctions to encourage people to sign up. Those who cannot afford it will not be required to pay, which is as it should be.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

In order for health insurance to work, the risk pool must be very large. That way, the rare sick people outliers will be balanced by the (relatively) rare extremely healthy outliers. If the healthy people decide not to take insurance, the remaining people in the pool will have their costs increased because the adverse risk from the sick people is spread over fewer other people.

MrItty's avatar

1) Because I couldn’t care less that they want to stay uninsured. When they do have an accident or other emergency, if they’re not insurred, I’m the one who pays for them. Screw their desires.

2) Because that’s the only way insurrance works. Not just health insurrance. Auto insurrance, fire insurrance, home insurrance, renters insurrance, etc. That’s how it works – everyone pays, on the gamble that they might need it. Those who do need it have their expenses paid for by the policies bought by everyone who didn’t need it.

Rarebear's avatar

You incur a fine if you drive without auto insurance. Same logic.

MekmanSupreme's avatar

That’s interesting but there are states like Massachusetts which have this very rule already employed, and it was insured in this manner years before the health care bill was a big deal. Being someone who has been between jobs a lot lately, There are things that you won’t be immediately penalized for by the government. So it wouldn’t immediately effect the poor in a negative way. It would simply mean for independently well off types, that they won’t be getting a second x-box for christmas 2014.

Lve's avatar

If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you are basically a freeloader and the rest of society will most likely pick up the check at some point.

augustlan's avatar

@MekmanSupreme Welcome to Fluther!

susanc's avatar

Check me if I’m wrong, but I believe the fine gets levied when you fill out your income tax form. If you indicate you prefer to go without health insurance, a tax gets added to the tax you pay on income you’ve decided to keep all to yourself rather than paying into the risk pool.

wundayatta's avatar

If we are all going to share a benefit, then we need to all help pay for it. Otherwise, some people are “free riders” (read leeches) on the rest of us. The fine is to try to get deadbeats to pony up like good citizens.

jerv's avatar

No bill/law is ever perfect, and this is much better than anything that the Republicans have ever proposed. We wanted reform, we wanted it years ago, the GOP didn’t give it to us, so now we have to deal with what the other side finally got done.

That said, there is always the Devil in the details, and I am not one to believe in sound-bites, especially not when you account for the fact that many of the outspoken critics of Obamacare are batshit insane and prone to exaggeration/lying, which tends to draw into question the competence of any critic. If there is a plan out there that can compete cost-wise to the penalty, then I am all for the penalty.

However, most plans I’ve seen cost more for three months of coverage than the IRS will ding you for remaining uncovered, and we are running a budget deficit anyways, so I see it as no big deal, especially considering that we Americans enjoy lower tax rates and cheaper gas than the rest of the industrialized world. If I were paying the same taxes as the average European then I would object…. but then again, if I were European, I would already have health insurance. Many Germans do despite the presence of government healthcare and the private insurance companies there seem to be doing quite well.

I’ve said it before and I;ll say it again; why don’t all of the sane, rational, intelligent Conservatives form their own party to stop this madness? As it stands, you can’t criticize the Obama administration without being lumped in with the loonies, which leaves people like me in a bad place. Do I support something I don’t believe in, or do I go insane and side with the Glen Beck crowd?

I should also state that I am against laws requiring adults to wear seat belts and helmets. IMO, those that are of age to join the military and die for our country are also mature enough to decide whether or not to use such life-saving safety measures. “Let those who ride decide” and “Live free or die!”. (Yes, I am from NH, where there are no such laws.) Of course, I am also in favor of insurance companies declining to pay for the consequences of people who are injured as a result of deciding not to wear a helmet/seat belt, but freedom is all about choices, and sometime choices have risks.

galileogirl's avatar

The fine is actually a form of insurance because it goes into a pool that pays major medical costs on a sliding scale for the uninsured,

The idea that the fine is less than an insurance premium so just pay the fine won’t fly. 2 uninsured people are in the same accident and both have the same hospital bill $50,000. #1 is a $7/hr single restaurant worker who has no assets. When he can;t pay his bill, the govt will negotiate a settlement with the hospital and pay it out of the uninsured pool. #2 is a married person with a household income of $100,000, bank accounts, stock, equity in a house. Since #2 has the ability to pay, the govt will not be involved,
.

jerv's avatar

@galileogirl Yeah, but that doesn’t sound as sensational as, “The government will fine you if you don’t have insurance!”.
Sad to say that politics today is al about scare-mongering :(

dalepetrie's avatar

Look at it as the government taking out insurance on behalf of all of us to protect us from the potential liablity that an uninsured person presents to us. Just like you could get in your car with no liability insurance, but if you got caught, you would pay a fine. Why? Well, because if you don’t have liability insurance and you are in an accident where someone gets hurt, it costs the government money if they have to deal with your bankruptcy court case if the victim sues you, and they have to deal with the cost of the person who can’t pay their medical bills because you can’t pay for their treatment…so the government levies fines to pay for the cost of you not participating in a system meant to keep everyone from financial ruin in the event of an accident. Same concept, you don’t get insurance on yourself, but you can afford to pay for it, then you get sick or injured, you have no insurance and can’t pay your medical bills, that’s a cost to our government, our society and the taxpayer. Not complying should be a finable offense because it deters people from gaming the system. The system benefits everyone, it has a cost to everyone, and society as a whole benefits, if you let one link go missing, the whole system falls apart, just cause some jackass decided he could walk around uninsured. If they won’t let you get away with it with your car, why the hell should they let you get away with it with your body?

jerv's avatar

“Not complying should be a finable offense because it deters people from gaming the system.”
Ummm, yeah. What that actually means is that they will have to come up with new ways to game the system. The only people that will be deterred are the law-abiding people who wouldn’t do it anyways, just as DRM hinders law-abiding computer users without stopping piracy.

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