Explaining the Individual Mandate

Let me know if this explanation for an individual mandate for socialized medicine makes you more comfortable. Please leave your comments below the post.

Interviewer: “Mr. President, why should there be an individual mandate for the 15% of uninsured Americans?”

President: "Because right now part of your insurance premium is paying for the people who don't have insurance, because when they get sick, they do go to the hospital for treatment, they just go well after the disease has become very acute, it's very expensive to treat, the hospital provides care, somebody has to pay for that, and it is built into your hospital costs and into your insurance premiums."

Interviewer: “But Mr. President, what of those who are financially independent and do not want insurance? You seem to be targeting them...”

President: "These people are generally younger than the average population, predominantly male and single. Eighty-two percent were high school graduates, 15 percent (had) college degrees, 78 percent are working ... and the majority are working full-time."

Interviewer: “Mr. President, is it fair to force taxpayers to pick up the tab for those who cannot afford healthcare?”

President: "Let's take someone who is earning one times federal poverty level. They're an individual, so their annual income is $9,570. Their weekly premium under our plan is $2.30 a week — 1.3 percent of their income. We pick up $66.93. The 'we,' is a royal 'we' here. It is the federal government, as well as a little bit of the state, as well as our insurance companies and providers. All of us together are participating in that subsidy."

Interviewer: “As I understand it, if the individual’s income increases they pick up more of the premium costs, is that right?”

President: "You will see that as the individual's income rises they pick up a larger and larger share of the premium. And, ultimately, when they exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level, they are able to pick up their entire premium...So, this is a plan, where people are able to get an insurance product they can afford — $2.30 a week — and as their income over their career goes up, they are able to get ongoing insurance with the same company."

Interviewer: “But what happens if this person disdains the generosity of the royal "we" and still does not want insurance? In you plan they would not be allowed that choice. In fact, even people unsubsidized by the royal "we" would no longer have that choice. Is that not the case?”

President: "To tell people in our society today that they have to go out and buy insurance would be unfair and wrong. Because right now, they don't have products they can afford. And if people are poor, they don't have any subsidy that they can rely on to help them get a product. So, it would be crazy to say to people, hey, you're uninsured, you better go get it. They can't afford it. But once we put in place the reforms I am describing, with new affordable products as well as a subsidized product, where your premium can be as low as $2.30 a week, now everybody can get insurance. And that is, look, now that we have these products available for you, we want everybody to get insurance and you have responsibility of having insurance, and we are going to mandate that you have insurance. You may call this an individual mandate. I don't. I call it the personal responsibility principle."