Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do we actually NEED mandates to ensure (near) universal health care coverage?

If we want to stop scaring off libertarians and get them on the side of universal health insurance coverage, here's one way to do it:  Make every adult legally responsible for every nickel's worth of health care services they receive.

That's right. Have every doctor and every hospital make every patient, including emergency room patients, sign a form assuming full financial responsibility for the services they receive, and include a warning that their financial resources may be seized if they default.

At the same time, give the same patients a disclaimer saying that their financial obligations can be met through either their own funds or through insurance coverage. Empower the same providers to offer immediate, guaranteed private insurance coverage to anyone who shows up with no insurance. Allow the providers to act as agents for a list of qualified insurers, all of whom offer the same basic package, and add-on options at the same regulated rates. Give them the option of paying the first premium on the spot or getting a bill.

If you had a the completely free choice between having everything you owned seized if you didn't pay your medical bills and getting guaranteed insurance coverage for the same services, which would you choose?

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