Yet Another False GOP Talking Point: The Affordable Care Act Is A Tax

image about health care reform

Many people, including myself, were shocked when the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. The decision was based on the grounds that it fell under the taxing authority of Congress. Republicans and other Conservatives lost their mind screaming like little children about a TAX!!!!! OMFG A TAX!!!! Well like a majority of GOP talking points this too is false and shows they really have no idea how insurance works.

The penalty, which would only affect less than 1%, that people would pay for not buying health insurance is more like the fine you pay if you get a speeding ticket. No rational person would claim that the fine from a traffic ticket is a tax. 

Also the individual mandate is needed if one is not going to let insurance companies dump people with pre-existing conditions. It’s plain economics:

The fundamental problem is that insurers can often identify specific people — like those with serious pre-existing conditions — who are likely to need expensive care. Any company that issued policies to such people at affordable rates would be driven into bankruptcy, its most profitable customers lured away by competitors offering lower rates made possible by selling only to healthy people.

Economists call this the adverse-selection problem. Because of it, unregulated private markets for individual insurance cannot accommodate the least healthy — those who most desperately need health insurance. 

But that interpretation will strike many economists as a misreading of the mandate’s purpose. It isn’t that people should buy health insurance because it would be good for them. Rather, failure to do so would cause significant harm to others. Society will always step in to provide care — though in much more costly and often delayed and ineffective forms — to the uninsured who fall ill. To claim the right not to buy health insurance is thus to assert a right to impose enormous costs on others. Many legal scholars insist that the Constitution guarantees no such right. 

Giving Health Care a Chance to Evolve

Let’s repeat:

To claim the right not to buy health insurance is thus to assert a right to impose enormous costs on others.

As we all should know, we don’t have the right to do anything we want if that action will harm others. One’s rights can’t trump the rights of others. Unless I guess you are in the upside down world of the Republican Party.

Speaking of the liberty argument some conservatives also try to use against the individual mandate, karoli wrote at Crooks and Liars:

This is a denial of liberty: Telling people to die because they can’t pay for prescriptions or hospital care or even to see a doctor. A denial of liberty is being an innocent bystander and losing everything because some random car breaks your bones. A denial of liberty is losing everything you worked for because you dared to get sick. That’s a denial of liberty, Rep. Bachmann. Choosing a $695 penalty over health insurance? That’s a choice, not a denial of liberty.

Bachmann Rails Against Activist Court After Health Care Ruling

Now if Republicans, who claim to know all about liberty and business, would get it then we can move on.