Culture

Could The Federal Government 'Force-Place' Health Insurance on the Uninsured?

rubber stamp with inscription INSURANCE

If you own a home, you may be familiar with force-placed homeowners insurance. Basically, in order to protect their interests, your mortgage lender usually has the right to force you to purchase homeowners insurance. That way, if there is a serious loss of property — say the house burns to the ground — the lender does not have to absorb the loss. The insurance company assumes the risk. As a homeowner borrowing money to purchase a home, you are not permitted by your lender to assume the risk yourself — in most cases you are forced to purchase homeowners insurance that meets certain requirements. You’re allowed to purchase insurance on the open market and rates are fairly reasonable — unless you let your policy lapse for some reason. Then the mortgage lender has the right to force-place homeowners insurance on you, and the policy they choose may be a lot more expensive than the policy you chose for yourself. You consented to the possibility of a force-placed policy when you (probably mindlessly) signed the two-inch pile of papers at closing.

This actually happened to our family when we purchased our home. We had shopped around for the best price and best policy to fit our family’s needs and, as we did with our previous home, we planned to pay for it out of an escrow account, so it was combined with our mortgage payment. Somehow, there was a paperwork mix-up and the mortgage company never paid the premium, resulting in cancellation of the policy. A few months after we moved in, we suddenly found that we had been force-placed into a high-cost homeowners insurance policy chosen for us by our mortgage company. It was three times the cost of the policy we had chosen, but because our policy had lapsed, the lender had the right to force-place us into another plan. Eventually, we were able to drop that policy and get back to the one we wanted, but it was not an easy process.

obama-signs-executive-order

All of this begs the question of how long it will be before the government begins force-placing uninsured Americans into the Marketplace exchanges, using as justification the federal mandate that everyone must have health insurance. Sure, there’s no law that allows the government to force-place anyone into an insurance policy, but there’s no law that allows President Obama to change anything else about the Affordable Care Act, either. And as the Washington Post reported, that hasn’t stopped Obama from making “numerous adjustments and tweaks to the Affordable Care Act as the law has come into effect.”

So, what’s to stop the president from protecting the interests of the Affordable Care Act by “helping” people to enroll in government health insurance — force-placing them into policies when they fail to enroll voluntarily? After all, the $95 fines will not even begin to cover the costs of insuring millions of aging, sick Americans, a large percentage of them enrolling in Medicaid, if young people fail to sign up and pay their monthly fines premiums. If the mortgage lenders have the right to protect themselves from catastrophic losses, shouldn’t the government also be able to do so? Besides, it could be argued that many people — perhaps millions — want to enroll and would do so, but for the problems with the website, so the government would be doing them a great service by enrolling them in the Marketplace exchanges. It’s what those millions of uninsured individuals desperately want and are trying to do, but they just can’t get on that darned healthcare.gov website. What other explanation could there possibly be for so few people signing up for government healthcare?

Maybe the idea of the government force-placing uninsured Americans into health insurance policies sounds alarmist — even preposterous. But please tell me, who would stop the president if he decided the only way he could get his signature law to work was by an Executive Order or a rule promulgated by HHS? Would the Congress that barely uttered a peep when Obama changed other parts of the Affordable Care Act pass a law to stop such an order — and then get the president to sign it? Or maybe they can come up with some sort of defunding strategy, instead. Yeah, that should work.

I’d like to think that our government couldn’t get away with force-placing people into insurance policies they don’t want, but as we’ve seen in the past few years, there are virtually no limits to the power Obamacare has over the lives of American citizens.