"I'm from the government and I'm here to help" is an oxymoron. But since we are the government, it is a self-inflicted wound. Time for action and several things stand out for me following the Supreme Court's decision on "Obamacare."
The onstitutional power to tax that we've granted Congress is pretty darn expansive if we can be taxed for not buying something. In this case the Supreme Court said that the government cannot compel us to engage in commerce by forcing us to buy something but it can tax us for not owning something, e.g. health insurance. In other words, what is being taxed is a state of inactivity. Couch potatoes beware!
This is a good time to make it known to our elected officials that we do not want "doing nothing" taxed. And anyone who thinks it is a good idea to tax "doing nothing" should be thrown out of office at the next opportunity.
Worst case scenario would be to have to pass a constitutional amendment to make this point, but hopefully just throwing the offenders out of office will suffice.
Also, Congress has little by little turned health insurance into something insurance was never meant to be. Have you ever heard of car insurance covering tune ups? Have you ever heard of life insurance covering things that make you less likely to die? Of course not!
A recent study has demonstrated that paying for preventive care actually costs insurance companies more than it saves them. So there is no financial justification to expand insurance to cover preventive care as Congress is requiring. It just makes it more expensive and thus out of the reach of more people. This is counterproductive to say the least.
We all recognize that insurance per se is a product that helps us avoid financial calamity when other types of calamity strike. Health insurance should return to being truly insurance. Just as we don't expect our car insurance to cover oil changes, neither should we expect our health insurance to cover all those preventive services that it now does.
This would make health insurance more affordable by returning it to its rightful role of protecting against financial calamity when health calamities occur.
If someone wants to offer a product that covers preventative care and services, let the market decide if it is good business, not the government. And if citizens really want all caps on lifetime insurance payouts removed, then perhaps a two-tiered system of insurance should be considered with one type of insurance available up to a certain lifetime cap and another type of extreme catastrophic insurance available for those who want to insure above the cap. Or perhaps there is a role for the state in truly catastrophic health situations. It is something we should debate as a state.
The goal here is to make health insurance affordable. Most people don't exceed moderate levels of health care costs associated with illness. Some people do. That's why insurance works when it is left alone to be truly insurance.
I agree with those who say that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 needs to be overturned. It became a Christmas tree with everyone getting into the act and hanging their own personal interests onto it while also falsely claiming it would lower health care costs. As it now stands, Congress has created an incentive for people to not be insured until they get sick. What a great idea! We need true reform, not a botched up mishmash.
Remember how many unreasonable statements were made by those who supported it? Things like, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it ..." Rep Nancy Pelosi. Or President Obama and its supporters insisting it did not involve a new tax (until it was in front of the Supreme Court and then they changed their tune).
Well, now we know and we should act on that knowledge.
Kristina Johannes is a taxpayer who lives in Anchorage.