Obamacare provides insurance everyone needs

A long time ago, when I contrived to become chairman of the state House Public Assistance Committee, welfare costs, including car insurance for welfare recipients, were a very hot item. I soon learned all was not as it seemed.

For one thing, the actual car insurance cost to the state worked out to be $5 a year per policy. We could handle it. More to the point, the real welfare cost driver was not financial assistance but health care, in the form of Medicaid. Still is.

In the more than three decades since then, health care cost increases have almost always risen faster than the underlying rate of inflation. More than 30 years ago it was already apparent that the state could not afford this.

Unfortunately, the solution sought was to prevent Medicaid eligibility rather than reforming the health care delivery system – a difficult and complicated task.

Short of structural reform, we now should seek a system that provides necessary benefits to the maximum number of people at the most affordable cost. An insurance solution. Insurance is all about spreading risk over the largest possible number of beneficiaries. Since everybody needs health care, that’s everybody.

Our health insurance system, instead, seeks to avoid risks by, for instance, excluding sick people. But everybody gets sick, so everybody needs health insurance. That’s what Obamacare provides.

We should not be surprised that it comes with some problems. After all, it’s the first time we’ve done this.

Byron W. Baker