Today the Wall Street Journal has been running a poll asking readers how they feel about mandates requiring that everyone sign up for health insurance. Asking “What should the federal government do about the uninsured?” the Journal gives readers three options:
(1) Require everyone to have insurance coverage, but keep private insurance.
(2) Adopt a single-payer, government-funded system.
(3) The government shouldn’t require everyone to have health care.
Late this afternoon, 347 people had responded, with 40 percent favoring mandates, 31 percent picking single-payer, and 29 percent saying the government should keep its sticky mitts off our free-market health care system.
Okay, this a very small poll, and it’s not random. But that is precisely what I find interesting.
I was surprised that 40 percent of the Journal’s relatively affluent readers voted for mandates since some of them are healthy and wealthy enough that they could easily “self-insure” by saving enough money in a health savings account to cover all but catastrophic medical expenses and then buying a low-cost, high deductible policy. Premiums for high-deductible insurance are going to be significantly lower than the premiums for mandated policies designed to ensure that everyone has comprehensive coverage (i.e. benefits comparable to what Medicare offers, plus maternity and other coverage younger people need).
Nevertheless, 40 percent think it is fair to require that everyone to pay into the pool while another 31 percent pick a single-payer system that would be funded by taxpayers.
Of course, 71 percent isn’t everyone. Consider the curmudgeon who sent in this comment: “Medical needs are endless…You are not your brother’s keeper no matter what the Bible or any other book written by superstitious savages says.”
That is why we need mandates. Trust me, this fellow is not going to sign up voluntarily.