Health insurance is just insurance

There’s a new discovery by the press that ObamaCare causes the young and healthy to pay more than they would if they were the only ones in the insurance pool. I’m sure it’s true, and it was also true in the old system. And get this, that’s how it has to work, and it’s fair.

If you were smart and understood the system, you would sign up for health insurance when you’re young, healthy and attractive to the insurance industry. You’d keep making payments through your youth and middle age, even if you weren’t using the health care system, because then, when you get old and/or sick, they would have to keep you insured. The pre-existing condition thing only kicked in, theoretically, if you were buying new insurance. So if you had insurance when you were young, you get to keep it when you’re old.

I wasn’t that smart, and let my personal policy lapse when I got a job that included health insurance. I got seriously sick after that policy was over (the company couldn’t afford the health insurance) but I had wisely chosen to use the COBRA option. So I was covered when I needed the insurance. Eventually, when that was over, I had a lot of trouble getting insured, because then I had the dreaded pre-existing condition.

The new system is better, because everyone can get insurance, even if you hadn’t been smart as a young person. The cost, and there always is a cost in insurance systems, is that now health insurance is a requirement, not an option. A young person is forced to do the smart thing, where in the past we were not.

The fallacy of the idea that the young are subsidizing the old is that they leave out the part that young people become old. If you would be young forever, then the system would be unfair. But eventually you will need health insurance, it could happen tomorrow or twenty years from now, and if the system stayed as it was, a lot of people would continue to slip through the cracks, and would go bankrupt or not get the treatment they need, because of a badly designed health system.

ObamaCare is not the best answer possible, but it is the best answer we have, and much better than the system it replaces.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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