The most infuriating aspect of Pres. Obama's health care reform, and one that may not withstand a court challenge, is the government mandate to buy insurance.
That mandate may hit young, and relatively healthy, people the hardest in the wallet. The response, at least from collectivist-minded lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, is that it's for their (and society's) own good, even while acknowledging that "the people that are 17 to roughly 26 in this country, as a group, are making an economically rational decision not to buy health insurance."
Bennet made his remarks on Saturday at an event in Denver hosted by New Era Colorado, a Boulder-based non-profit with the self-described mission of "reinventing politics for our generation through innovative social and political action."
"Steve was talking earlier about, how, well, maybe you guys are disadvantaged in this bill because young people, are on average, healthier than older people," said Bennet. "My observation about that is sort of twofold. One, young people hopefully become older people themselves, at some point, so you want to have a system that actually works for everybody.
"And the other is that, as a group, the people that are 17 to roughly 26 in this country, as a group, are making an economically rational decision not to buy health insurance. Again, as a group. That's why the insurance rates among young people, among other things, are so much lower than they are for the rest of the population.
"But the reason it was very important to us to say, among other things, that we wanted to keep people on their folks' insurance until they were 26, if they wanted to do it, was that, first of all: even though as a group it's economically rational for you not to buy insurance; as individuals, it is irrational, because if one of you gets sick or if you have a car accident or if something befalls you and you're not insured, it could ruin the rest of your life. And, so that's why we wanted to get folks insured.
"But the other reason is, frankly, 'cause you're cheaper, because you are generally healthier. And what it does is net out the expense of adding people to the pool that have pre-existing conditions that are today being denied insurance. So, that's why we're all in this together. And, there are people that are opposed to health-care reform that say, 'Well, you shouldn't require everybody to have insurance but we should still cover people with pre-existing conditions.' The result of that would simply be to drive the insurance rates up to unaffordable levels."