Popular Economics Weekly

Hallelujah. The Supreme Court of our land has given Obamacare a clean constitutional bill of health, thanks to its Chief Justice, who says government does have the power to tax those who can afford to buy health insurance, but won’t.

Republicans have framed Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, as a loss of individual freedom. But the only freedom lost is the freedom to be treated without having to pay for it, which is what the uninsured do when they have to go to emergency rooms. Most of us have health care, of course, if we have family and children to care for. Individual responsibility really means one should have to pay for their own health care, rather than taxpayers or the already insured.

So why are Republicans so adamantly against it, when they claim to believe in individual responsibility, and the constitution? It is because they might be taxed more, and of course all taxes are fundamentally evil. They say they abhor any kind of government aid or regulation as if they lived 100 years ago, when everyone had to take care of themselves—or suffer the consequences. But that was when birth and death rates were far worse than today, and we lived shorter lives. Are there any Republicans who would like to return to those days? Please stand up!

More Americans will be healthy, both physically and financially, since medical bankruptcies will become rarer and serious disease rates should drop, since preventative health care will be encouraged. And simple math tells us that with some 30 million more insured due to the mandate requirement, health care costs will be spread among more users of health care.

So know that health care premiums will drop, since as with Medicare, administrative costs will be severely restricted—85 percent of premiums have to be spent on health care—so that providers cannot as they currently use 25 percent of their premiums just for marketing, which means overselling all those medicines (like erectile dysfunction aids) that choke our daily television screens.

Actually, the real results of what is not yet a universal health care system with 20 million are not being openly discussed, at least yet. It should release a surge of consumer spending, for instance, according to economists such as Robert Shiller. Consumers will no longer have to put so much aside for those sick days because they no longer have to worry so much about budget busting medical bills. They might even enjoy more vacation days to spend with their families, if they take advantage of available preventative care measures for such things as obesity and bad diets.

Yale Economist Shiller has been advocating just such universal insurance for years in books such as The New Financial Order, Risk in the 21st Century, and Finance and the Good Society. It is part of his thesis that with the new information age ability to collate huge amounts of information we can level the playing field against risky outcomes, such as loss of income, or value in one’s home, or even serious illness, by insuring against such outcomes.

“If firms and individuals cannot insure themselves against bad outcomes, they will be necessarily cautious; the economy will grow more slowly than it should,” says a New York Times book review of Finance and The Good Society. “A company will not invest in a new factory if it cannot hedge against swings in exchange rates that might render its investment unprofitable. An individual will not consume to the full extent of his capacity if he cannot insure his house or health.”

So now we at least will have a better health care system. It’s a start.

Harlan Green © 2012