Back in March 2008, I wrote this on PJM in a post titled “Today’s Health Insurance Ain’t Insurance”:
Here’s where things start to get tricky, though. Some people — young people just out of school for example — aren’t making a lot of money, but then don’t really want to spend a lot of money on insurance. Normally, they wouldn’t have to: other than accidents and very rare diseases, a 25-year-old shouldn’t normally need anything more than minor maintenance and occasional hangover cures. The idea of the mandate, though, is that if you include these low-risk people in the whole insurance pool, the premiums they pay can be added back to the pot for older people and people with serious illnesses, which makes the insurance more “affordable” — for them.
It’s exactly the same situation as if we charge a 25-year-old the same amount for a year’s term life insurance as we charge his 75-year-old grandfather: it may make the insurance more affordable for Granddad, but it does so by overcharging young Elmo. Add in the “mandate,” so Elmo can’t opt out, and we have a universal care plan that forces Elmo to pay for services he doesn’t get so that Granddad can pay less for the services he gets. But it’s “voluntary” — you get to pick your insurance plan to some extent — and it’s not “tax-supported” because you are just paying the insurance company directly.
Today in Forbes, we see Cathy Reisenwitz, in a post titled “Millennials Are Opting Out Of Obamacare Because It’s Not Insurance,” saying:
The problem with this plan is that it hoses young, relatively poor people like me right when we least need high bills for services they’re not using. And it helps older, relatively rich people who should be able to afford the care they need. If America’s downtrodden and struggling young people are smart, they’ll opt out. Then it’ll be up to the federal government to fine them enough to make up for the shortfall.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me for five years, I’m an Obama voter.