Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Insurance at Gun Point

Tibor R. Machan

No one is as fond of affordability as I am--well, may this is wrong but I am very fond of it. That extends to insurance. My home, car, health and sometimes travel insurance would at their best be something I can well afford. But then this is so with whatever it is that I am in the market for, shoes, food, furniture, electronics, whatever. Bottom line is I like a good deal and it would not surprise me if everyone else does too.

Now and then I do engage in a little bit of charity purchase, as when I buy some wine from those who spend some of what they gain on supporting breast cancer research or patronize a restaurant because I would like it to keep going in hard times. Even the people who come to clean my house could come less often but I just hate to take them down a notch if I can afford keeping them working.

But most of the time I want to make a good deal, no charity, no kindness, no generosity unless friends and relatives are at the other end of the trade. Thus when I hear about how the government will force insurance companies to keep selling insurance to people whom the firms judge too expensive to insure, I am outraged. After all, people who own insurance companies aren't in the business so as to do anyone a favor. No, they see a business opportunity and hope that they can come out ahead, along with those whom they insure. But if they no longer see a decent return on their investment, they would, naturally, cut deals elsewhere, just as most people would (with those minor exceptions involving intimates). Not that people in the insurance business might not wish to provide everyone with good insurance whether they can pay what is needed to make this happen. We all have wishes like that but to realize them it would be necessary to impose a deal on people who have decided they would rather make different deals, with people who can sustain their provisions of the pertinent professional service.

People who work at insurance firms need to be paid so they can feed their children, send them to school, go on vacation, buy clothing and their own insurance and whatnot. And so do those who own insurance companies and invest in them--it is all for purposes of a reasonable deal. And what is and is not a reasonable deal for all these folks is not something anyone other than they can determine. Yes, some might wish to charge more than they do but if the industry is competitive, they will not be able to do this. But to have governments coerce people to take less from a deal than they can based on the free, voluntary agreements reached with customers is just plain criminal, no different from coercing a barber to take less from a client than they freely agree would be the right amount.

Yes, it is sad that some people are so ill that covering them with insurance would require the insurer to take a loss but unless insurers have agreed to do this, freely, voluntarily, no one has the moral authority to force them into such deals. Just because it would be very desirable for such people to get covered when they need to obtain health care, it does not follow at all that insurance companies or anyone else may be forced to come to their support. Life isn't always accommodating to such hopes and wishes and aspirations. No one welcomes a huge medical expense but unless one can find some generous people, generous of their own free will instead of being forced to act as if they were generous, that's the way it has to be.

One reason people should begin to get insured early in their lives is that they are less likely to need services at that point and they can get deals from which insurance companies can profit, just as they would want to profit from them when they have a need for medical care. Forcing either the provider or the provided to get into deals they do not judge to be sound for them is tyranny, not help.

It is too bad that in a so called free country such elementary points are all forgotten, especially once government enters the fray. (And in insurance deals governments keep things expensive by, for example, forbidding us to buy insurance from outside the state in which we live, a perfectly artificial imposition on us all.)

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