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Penalty tax means no free riders in Obamacare

Published: July 14, 2012

In response to Mike Jones (Your Views, July 7): Mitt Romney has a strong, analytic business mind from his years at Bain Consulting. That's why Romneycare includes a penalty tax on those who can afford health coverage but didn't sign up. Romney understood that a main goal was to minimize the freeloaders using taxpayer-supported “free” care at emergency rooms. Similarly, a reason for coverage of pre-existing conditions was to prevent insurance companies from having a free ride on hospitals. Jones' worry that “people stop buying insurance until they need it” is counterbalanced by the penalty tax for no insurance, so there are fewer free riders in either Romneycare or Obamacare.

Another advantage of covering pre-existing conditions is that you can change insurance companies at any time without worry, just like changing auto or home insurance. That's certainly the way to ensure a competitive, consumer-focused private marketplace. And wouldn't it be great to have one website showing all health plans, such as the travel websites that show all airlines' prices? That's what the health care exchanges would do. There is no “government health plan” — just the usual Aetna, Blue Cross, Cigna, etc. plans presented in an understandable manner for patient-focused decision-making by employers and individuals.

Steven B. Goldman, The Village