What is the Purpose of Health Insurance?
For conservatives, the belief of the purpose of health insurance is quite simple: insurance is meant to cover those things that are unexpected, not the every day things that come with simply living. Getting cancer, having a heart attack, or getting hit by a car are things that most people would not consider to be a normal or expected health matter.
Consider car insurance, which is something liberals loves to point out is mandated by the government. Car insurance covers limited things and is mostly useful only when something unexpected happens. Did you get hit by a semi? That's probably unexpected. Was your car attacked by football-sized hail and now needs new windows and exterior body? Yep, you are covered. But what your car insurance likely does not cover is for you to fill your gas tank, trade out your wiper blades, buy new tires, or change your oil. Can you imagine how expensive your insurance would be if the government mandated insurance companies cover such things? How would a person who drives 10 miles a week enjoy split the costs with every driver who drives 1,000 miles a week? Oh, and then the government says you also have to have boat, plane, and motorcycle insurance even if you do not own any of those. This is what Obamacare has done to the healthcare insurance market.
Free Market Options
Although President Obama promised that if people liked their current healthcare plans they could keep them, that promise came with a huge asterisk. That is, he meant you can keep your plan if it met all of the expensive new requirements of his 2009 health care bill. This all but eliminated many of the low cost "catastrophic" plans relied upon by lower income workers or younger people. If a healthcare company wants to offer a bare bones plan, covering for unexpected major medical expenses, shouldn't such a low cost plan be an option?
Under Obamacare, there are lists of things that health care plans must cover. As of 2014, most plans include coverage on such questionable smoking cessation drugs and programs, breastfeeding equipment, and a variety of birth control programs. Needless to say, the minimum requirements set by Obamacare have had devastating consequences. Employers who couldn't afford the new plans were forced to cut hours to avoid many of the penalties. We now have the greatest part-time worker economy in history, and that is not a good thing. People who once had basic coverage are not forced to rely on subsidies to purchase the more expensive plans they never wanted.
One thing Obamacare does is dismantle any resemblance to free market principles in health care. To be fair, even before Obamacare insurance plans were heavily regulated and the high costs for care were mostly a result of a lack of free market principles. But the new requirements only make things worse for consumers and for the free market.
Obamacare is Health Redistribution, Not Insurance
Sure, in the free market an insurance company might offer many plans. They could offer catastrophic plans for people who do not run to the doctor every time they get a cold or if they need to buy birth control. (After all, if they aren't paying triple the premiums they could probably have money to pay for these items outright.) They could also offer more expensive plans - now the norm and requirement - that cover just about everything, even those things you would never personally need to be insured for. Under Obamacare, you re still required to be "insured" for those things. To bring back the auto insurance analogy, you are required to have coverage for a boat and all associated risks, even if you don't want it because you don't have a boat.
Starting in 2014, Obamacare requires that insurance plans offer 100% coverage on "smoking cessation medications." Why is quitting a bad habit something that should be covered by insurance and why are people who don't partake in that habit required to foot the bill through their insurance plans? People who have never smoked will now pay more for insurance to pay to have smokers try to quit. Given the deadly nature of obesity, it's actually a surprise that Obamacare doesn't mandate insurance plans pay for gym memberships. What's the difference between that and smoking drugs?
While solving the problem of people with pre-existing conditions is important (since they will get care no matter what, and somehow someone pays), Obamacare "solves" the problem by forcing insurance companies to put them on the health plans at the same price of people without pre-existing conditions. this necessarily caused the health plans of healthy people to skyrocket
Should Governments Mandate Insurance Coverage?
Once upon a time, conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation supported mandated coverage. Of course, the types of coverage they supported included the very limited "catastrophic" plans that are the most costly and most draining on the health care system. Many conservatives still support such mandates on a state-by-state level.