Maybe They Choose to be Uninsured

Via Arnold Kling, Maggie Mahar writes:

Some citizens of the Commonwealth don't even want to pay for their own
health care insurance. Under the plan, everyone in Massachusetts is
required to buy insurance (or pay a penalty), with the state providing
a 100% subsidy for those who earn less than 150% of the poverty level.
Those receiving the full subsidy are enthusiastic. The state had hoped
to sign up 57,000 uninsured and they've over-shot their target: 76,200
of Massachusetts' poorest citizens have enrolled.

At the other end of the spectrum, the program isn't doing as well.
Uninsured citizens earning more than 300% of the poverty level are
expected to buy their own insurance. Here, the state hoped that 228,000
of its uninsured citizens would sign up. So far, just 15,000 have
enrolled.  Apparently, they've done the math and decided that it would
be cheaper to pay the penalty.  But their premiums are needed to keep
the program going.  If more in this group don't sign up, it is not at
all clear how the state will be  able to continue subsidizing the poor.

All of this adds up to "people without health insurance are so because it is not worth the price."  If they get it free, fine, they will use it like crazy, but they won't pay for it.  So I should for them?


  1. tim:

    This MA manditory healthcare thing is the #1 reason I will never vote for Mitt Romney.

  2. CRC:

    Amazing...people who are being stolen from are not very enthusiastic about the program and the people who are the recipients of the stolen goods are ecstatic.

    How long before the state simply reaches into the pockets of these "slackers" and just takes the money? Should we start a pool on this?

  3. Josh:

    I live in Massachusetts and am uninsured. And yes, it's because I choose to be uninsured. I did the research, and looked at the different options for available plans. I found that there are definitely plans that I could afford, but honestly there are other things I could use that money for. I'm not below the poverty line by any means, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to shell out the money for health insurance when I could instead put it towards my mortgage, or car payments, or paying down my credit cards (sadly I had to run up balances during a brief period of unemployment). The cheapest plan I found was about $125/mo. Affordable, but if I put an extra $125/mo towards my credit cards I'll probably end up saving more money in the long run than whatever benefits I might end up using would be worth. Hopefully business will pick up and I'll have more money to spare so that insurance becomes a more worthwhile investment, but for now, considering my age and finances, it just seems like a waste of money.

  4. Doug:

    But their premiums are needed to keep the program going. If more in this group don’t sign up, it is not at all clear how the state will be able to continue subsidizing the poor.

    Insurance is about risk sharing. Subsidizing the poor is about wealth transfer. MA doesn't have mandatory insurance, just welfare with a new name.