May 22, 2006
Massachusetts passed a law requiring everyone to have health insurance. Supporters of the bill present it as health care for all. “This is probably as close as you can get to universal,” said Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change. “They found a way to get to a major expansion of coverage that people could agree on. For a conservative Republican, this is individual responsibility. For a Democrat, this is government helping those that need help.”
In fact, the bosses’ two parties agreed because the bill is aimed at helping business, under the guise of helping the uninsured. Companies that do not provide health insurance have to pay a fine under the new law – $295 per employee per year. That does not begin to pay the cost of health insurance for an uninsured person. It’s really an incentive for companies to stop providing insurance for their employees.
Individuals, on the other hand, will be fined on their taxes up to half the cost of a health care premium if they can “afford” to pay. That is, they will pay 10 or even 20 times as much as the employer who doesn’t insure them. And the state decides who can afford it!
Who is not paying for health insurance now who can afford it? If people are not paying, there’s a reason – lack of money!
Sure the bosses would prefer not to have a lot of uninsured people. It means they wind up in emergency rooms, which is more expensive than if they saw a regular doctor. Since many of the uninsured are poor – it winds up costing Medicaid. In fact, the federal government demanded that the state of Massachusetts do something about their uninsured or risk losing Medicaid money.
That’s why they passed this bill. While it gives employers a cheap way not to provide health insurance – it makes people who can’t afford it starve themselves of something else to pay for this new state system.