Let me start off by stating that I find the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — known more commonly as Obamacare — to be objectionable.
Not because I disagree with some of its intentions; I am actually in favor of eliminating discrimination for pre-existing health conditions and the ability to keep children on the parent’s health plan until 25.
The problem I have with it is that healthcare isn’t currently a right granted by the Constitution. And, the ACA approaches healthcare from the standpoint that it is something we are all entitled to.
If you were to ask me if I believe healthcare should be something all legal citizens of the U.S. should have access to, then I would say yes because the alternatives are far more costly. But, I am not in favor of trashing the Constitutional process to provide such a privilege.
If we U.S. citizens want to change the Constitution to guarantee this right and it passes — then I am on board. Until then, I am not a fan. That said, the ACA is now law and while I may grumble about our laws from time to time, I do obey them.
The problem, however, is that in order for the ACA to work it requires that everyone of every age – particularly young and healthy people – either obtain healthcare via their employer or acquire healthcare via the ACA and pay an income-adjusted premium. Enrollment in the ACA by young people not covered via their employer is a critical component because healthy young people who pay premiums and don’t use healthcare services are needed to cover the older and/or sick people who do.
The issue is that the requirement to participate — called “the individual mandate” — or incur a fine is being pushed out in many states. Participation is a critical element of the program and without this the entire program could collapse.
I have a simple suggestion that won’t solve the entire problem, but may go a long way toward helping get enrollment up among the young, but uncovered, population in the U.S.
Today, if you want a driver’s license in most states — all states? — you need to have and be able to show evidence you have auto insurance. Somehow, most people who want to be drivers are able to come up with the funds necessary to pay for auto insurance, even if it is just the minimum a state requires.
My proposal is simple: require all people who want to drive to have health insurance and carry proof of health insurance coverage in their car, just as they must carry proof of auto insurance coverage and registration.
During routine traffic stops, the police could issue a “fix it” ticket to those who fail to carry proof of health insurance and those would be remedied through the same process we already have in place for auto insurance; so we don’t need to add yet another agency to manage the process.
Now, this requirement isn’t a panacea — it won’t capture everyone, especially those who don’t want or need a driver’s license. But, it might be a very simple requirement that could help add many more to the ACA roster and it could be managed through the same processes we already have in place using the DMV.
I am sure many will find reasons why this isn’t a good idea or non-workable but as long as we have the ACA in place, it seems we should be striving to find ways to make it work as best we can for the least amount possible.