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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

(Almost) Everyone Loses -- By James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal

Reason's Peter Suderman takes note of a poll result that surprises him:
Obamacare has lost the uninsured.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week asked uninsured individuals whether or not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the U.S. health care system.
Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad the old system--the system that for whatever reason left them uninsured--was, a majority of people without health coverage now think that Obamacare makes it worse.
If Suderman's surprise is sincere, he must have taken a sip of the ObamaCare Kool-Aid. Implicit in his reasoning is a huge unwarranted assumption--to wit, that people without health insurance desire to have it.

Some no doubt do, and lacked insurance because a pre-existing condition made them uninsurable in the pre-ObamaCare regime. But some lack insurance because they don't want it, don't feel they need it, are completely indifferent, or think it costs too much. What does ObamaCare do for them?

"To" them is more like it. It jacks up their premiums to pay for all the mandated coverages--especially if they're young and healthy and thus least likely to think they need insurance to begin with. It then tells them that they must buy insurance, whether they want it or not. Imagine a law ordering everyone to buy a bicycle, or a periodic ration of meat. Even if the prices were deeply discounted, it would still be an unmitigated burden on noncyclists or vegetarians.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Congress exceeded its authority by "mandating" the purchase of health insurance, but it saved the law by construing the mandate as a tax on being uninsured. Being surprised that the uninsured would object to such a tax is like being surprised that yacht owners would object to George H.W. Bush's luxury tax on yachts.
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