No health insurance, no football tickets.What about the consquences of evading the facts of economics?
Oklahoma must take drastic steps to improve its dismal ranking in the number of residents who have no health insurance, state Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said Thursday during her agency’s Summit on the High Cost of Health Insurance. Barring a law requiring the purchase of health insurance, which Holland concedes would be a political long shot, "inducements” that penalize those who fail to insure themselves would help, she said.
Among the possible inducements Holland proposed was forfeiture of football season tickets to University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University games, forfeiture of lottery or gaming winnings, loss of state income tax deductions or licenses to drive, hunt or fish.
"None of those are very pleasant, but there needs to be a consequence,” Holland said.
State Rep. Kris Steele, co-chair of the House Health Care Reform Task Force, said requiring Oklahomans to purchase health insurance is not a popular stance among lawmakers.Excuse? Wanting to make your own choices about how you live your life - is that an excuse, Rep. Steele?
"I believe the place to start is to create a situation within our state that people are without excuse for not having health insurance,” Steele said. "Once we get to the point where people are without excuse, then we create the incentives.”
Holland said the use of inducements, such as revoking in-state tuition discounts for uninsured Oklahomans, would send a message. "We have developed this culture over the years that some don’t feel like they have to pay their medical bills,” she said.Would that culture be called the welfare state?
Judging by the comments posted with this article, any move to "induce" people to buy health insurance would not be popular here in Oklahoma.
Unfortunately there is a movement afoot to require everyone in the country to buy health insurance, according to a post at the blog of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.
Somebody needs to remind Commissioner Holland and Rep. Steele that living your life the way you want to live it - including deciding not to buy health insurance if you can't afford it or don't want it - is a right not an excuse.
Update - Nov 22: Commissioner Holland seems to be doing some back-pedaling since the appearance of yesterday's story in The Oklahoman, which apparently motivated "dozens" of people to call and email the state Insurance Department. According to an article in today's edition, Holland now claims that some of her statements - such as the one involving preventing the uninsured from getting OU football tickets - were meant in "jest" and that she supports public discussion of "Oklahoma's heath insurance crisis".
None of the commenters who made posts on The Oklahoman's website, NewsOK.com, regarding this story seem to be buying it.
Update - Nov 24: Paul Hsieh has picked up on this story at the blog of FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.