Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Papers, Please

I am not especially adamant on the subject of health care, one way or another. On balance, I still prefer private institutions to government-run ones. But that doesn't mean I think that government run ones are necessarily disastrous, corrupt, and evil incarnate. Or that private ones are necessarily holy and good and perfect. Most first world health-care systems, including ours and including government-run ones, serve most of their population pretty well. The reason everybody argues so much about the topic is because the answer to the question "How do we provide the most people with the best health care?" is not only complicated, but close.

But there's this one little thing that bothers me about one of the proposed ideas -- the "government mandate". This is the idea where the government mandates that all insurance companies accept all applicants and cover pre-existing conditions. In turn, all individuals must buy health care insurance or face steep fines (with people who cannot afford insurance being subsidized). Now, if the government is going to do the first part it has to do the second, because without an individual mandate, healthy people could wait until they got sick to get insurance, which defeats the whole "insurance" idea.

And it's not really a bad idea, except that it makes it a crime not to be able to prove that you have insurance.

And the funny thing about America is that, right now, in this country, you are not legally required to have documentation about your identity. Living without photo id is terribly inconvenient, but not actually illegal. If you're walking along the street, a police officer can't ask you to produce id, and can't arrest you if you fail to show it. It's one of the reasons America has such a problem with illegal aliens, because the burden of proof (as I understand it) is on the INS to show that you are an illegal alien, not on you to prove that you aren't.

I love that, actually. I do not love the way the way this liberty has been chipped away by the TSA, but the fact remains that I can go anywhere in this country, and as long as I'm not flying on a plane or driving a car, I cannot be required to prove who I am to any government entity. I don't have to show my papers.

An insurance mandate, quite by accident, changes that. It would becomes a crime not to have insurance -- and moreover, not to be able to prove that you had insurance. Because the burden of proof would be on you to show that you were insured, not on the government to prove that you weren't. You'd need to be documented. "I am this person, and I have insurance."

That idea makes me unhappy.

Does it bother anyone else? Especially people who otherwise favor overhauling the health care system?
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