The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Health Insurance is Not Health Care

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Unless you’ve had your head in a ditch these past few days, you know by now that President Obama signed a sweeping health care bill. At a grand total of 2,700 pages – with amendments still being debated even after the bill has already passed.

But that does not mean the South Carolina legislature should simply sit on its hands and wait for the federal legislation to fall on our heads.

As the Policy Council detailed in testimony to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee yesterday and the House Constitutional Laws subcommittee today, the federal takeover of 1/6 of the U.S. economy is arguably unconstitutional.

Some states – like Virginia and Idaho – have already passed legislation that would protect the right to opt out of the federal law’s mandate requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance.

But, so the argument goes, won’t these people need health care at some point? And shouldn’t we thus require those who can afford it to buy health insurance and then subsidize coverage for everyone else? What about the uninsured?

The thing to remember here is that many people in America choose not to purchase health insurance, but are still able to afford to purchase discrete health care services on the free market.

According to economist Keith Hennessey, 10.1 million uninsured are members of families that have income of 300 percent of the federal poverty line or greater and so can afford to purchase health care on the free market.

Similarly, a study by former Congressional Budget Office director June O’Neill concluded that “43 percent of the uninsured have incomes higher than 250 percent of the poverty level ($55,125 for a family of four). And slightly more than a third have incomes in excess of $66,000.”

Those numbers are further corroborated by a study in Health Affairs that found 20 percent of the uninsured can afford coverage.

Several pieces of legislation currently before the S.C. General Assembly would protect those individuals and preserve their right to make a choice not to purchase insurance.

Congress would have you believe the new federal law is meant to help people who want insurance – shouldn’t we also try and help people who don’t want insurance?


Written by Geoff Pallay

March 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm

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