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What's Wrong with Massachusetts's Mandatory Medical Insurance - Mark Yannone

Written by Subject: Health and Physical Fitness
What's Wrong with Massachusetts's Mandatory Medical Insurance

by Mark Yannone

April 22, 2006

Writing for The American Prospect about Massachusetts's mandatory medical insurance, co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner published an article on April 18, 2006, entitled "If You Fund It, It Will Work." It contains the following summary statement that illustrates the socialist's disconnect from reality:

"Massachusetts's health care plan must receive adequate public funding, or individuals will end up footing the bill."

In the socialist's universe the public is not composed of individuals, hence "public funding" does not come from individuals. Instead the socialist sees "the public" as an amorphous blob of protoplasm--a human form of pond scum that can be harvested for whatever it can produce. Those who are comfortable with such an identity will be content in Robert Kuttner's world, but people who see themselves as unique individuals with inherent individual rights that must be acknowledged and respected will rebel or go elsewhere.

Robert B. Reich, co-founder and national editor of The American Prospect, wrote an article posted on April 17, 2006, entitled "Two Cheers for Massachusetts." He makes the following comments about Massachusetts's mandatory insurance, to which I reply:

REICH: Libertarians may holler about this but it seems sensible and fair.

YANNONE: Libertarians do object to having their private property voted away from them. There is nothing fair about the violation of property rights, no matter how good someone else's intentions may be.

REICH: Mandatory insurance is not an invasion of our independence. We've got to buy car insurance if we want to drive.

YANNONE: Auto insurance is a precondition to subjecting others to the danger of your presence on the highway. Posting a bond would achieve the same effect, and to the extent that individuals have no choice in how they protect fellow drivers, that too is an assault on independence.

REICH: We have to buy home insurance if we want to get a mortgage.

YANNONE: The lender is entitled to protect his investment in the borrower's property. The security for the loan is merely vulnerable property.

REICH: When we pay our local taxes we pay for fire fighters and police officers, even if we never use them--even if people who live in more run-down parts of down end up using more of them than we do.

YANNONE: Governments are notorious for their attempts to divorce the cost of delivering services from the free market influences of supply and demand. The incentive-destroying condition described above is a distortion created by government that the free market would not tolerate. The free market rewards those who require fewer services with lower cost and punishes those who require more services with greater cost, thereby providing a vital feedback loop between service providers and consumers.

REICH: So what's wrong with requiring that everyone who can afford it to buy health insurance, even if some people who are needier may get a bit more of the benefits?

YANNONE: There are several things wrong with that. One, it is a wrong-headed reaction to the defective premise that anyone who approaches government with a medical need is entitled to treatment paid for by taxes extracted by force or threat of force (deadly force, if necessary). Two, it requires individuals who do not want or need medical services to provide them for others who do. Three, it violates property rights. Four, it severs the feedback loop that is so beneficial in the free market. Five, those who do not want to participate in this socialist plan of wealth redistribution will be forced to leave the state, and they will. Property values will fall and wealth-building opportunities will go elsewhere. Per capita medical costs will rise, which will drive more wealth producers out of the state, causing per capita medical costs to rise, and so forth. This "fair solution" is in fact an engine of economic destruction.

REICH: But even Kansas might be attracted by a plan that insures nearly everyone without spending a taxpayer dime.

YANNONE: No one can look at Massachusetts's mandatory medical insurance scheme and claim that taxpayers will not be spending a dime for their medical insurance. Those who choose not to purchase insurance will now be forced to buy insurance. Those who choose to buy minimal insurance will be forced to buy more insurance. The average cost for this mandatory insurance will be 1000 to 2000 dimes per month.

There is everything in the world wrong with Massachusetts's mandatory medical insurance scheme. The very announcement of the plan sparked appropriate alarm and dismay. Before very long the unintended consequences will be readily apparent to those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of economics in human history. Sadly, history has shown that they will continue to generate defective solutions to this and other defective solutions they impose on their victims.


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